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Schneiderman targets 'head shops' for selling synthetic drugs

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced yesterday that his office has filed 12 lawsuits across the state against 16 head shop retailers for violating the state's labeling laws by selling designer drugs, including commonly known synthetics such as "bath salts" and "synthetic marijuana.”

At a press conference in Rochester, Schneiderman detailed legal actions that followed statewide undercover investigations revealing that head shop employees were illegally selling and promoting these synthetic drugs.

"The proliferation of illegal synthetic drugs has become a national crisis. Across the state, our undercover investigations have revealed the widespread sales and promotion of bath salts and other dangerous drugs that are destroying people’s lives," said Schneiderman.

Schneiderman's undercover video investigation discovered head shops were labeling these dangerous products going by names like "MJ Blueberry Aromatic Potpourri", "Bizarro," "AMPED," "VOODOO," or "Cali Crunch," and marketing them with false descriptions such as “incense,” “butterfly attractant,” “glass cleaner,” “potpourri,” “sachets,” “dietary supplements,” or other common household products.

Some products had no label whatsoever and most lacked comprehensive ingredient listings.  

Federal and state laws and regulations require that all consumer commodities, at a minimum, be labeled to describe net contents, identity of the product, and the name and place of business of the product's manufacturer, packer, and distributor.

Although federal and state authorities have attempted to outlaw certain chemicals and their analogs and to remove these items from commerce, their efforts continue to fall short as the chemists and producers providing the products for head shops simply alter formulas and stay ahead of the legislation, said Schneiderman.

The attorney general's lawsuits also pursue retailers for illegal sale of nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas” and used legally by dentists, to the public.

The Attorney General's lawsuit has been filed in 12 counties across the state, from Buffalo to Long Island, and seeks an immediate end to the sale of mislabeled drugs. In addition, the lawsuit is seeking an accounting of all commodities sold or offered for sale including the name of the product, the manufacturer and/or distributor of the product, a description of the product, the retail price of the product and the number of units sold.

The stores have names like Look Ah Hookah (Rochester), Twisted Headz (Syracuse) and Trip on the Wild Side II (Watertown).

July 10, 2012 - 2:03pm


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