A.G. Schneiderman Secures Permanent Ban On Sale Of Mislabeled Designer Drugs And Penalty For Owner Of Albany Head Shop

A.G. Schneiderman Secures Permanent Ban On Sale Of Mislabeled Designer Drugs And Penalty For Owner Of Albany Head Shop

ALBANY — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that a judge signed a consent order and judgment demanding mislabeled or unlabeled products, including synthetic drugs or street drug alternatives commonly referred to as "designer drugs," be permanently removed from the store shelves ofShining Star in Albany. In addition to the removal of these harmful products, owner Dan Heins must also pay a total of $14,000 in penalties and costs.Attorney General Schneiderman has won nine orders permanently removing synthetic drugs from the shelves of head shops statewide since July.

"The proliferation of synthetic drugs has become a crisis in the Capital Region, New York State and across the country. The judge's order proves that, by taking a creative approach in using the state's existing labeling laws, we can get swift results to remove dangerous designer drugs off store shelves and hold sellers accountable for breaking the law," Attorney General Schneiderman said. "We will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to combat the growing and dangerous designer drug epidemic."

As part of Attorney General Schneiderman's undercover investigation, agents went intoShining Star, located on Lark Street in Albany, and purchased substances labeled "Glide 150," "Lucky Kratom," "Salvia," "Maeng Da Liquid Kratom," all of which were sold for drug effect, and some of which were variously labeled "NOT MEANT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION" or "Rx Strength."

A store clerk, later identified as Mr. Heins, discussed the drug effects of each product at length, and then recommended different types of pipes and vaporizers to use in order to achieve the best effect from the substances, one which the investigator bought. In addition, the agent purchased a 50-charger box of "NITRO whip" nitrous oxide (N2O) paired with a "cracker" and a "balloon," paraphernalia used specifically to break the seal on containers of nitrous oxide, allowing it to be inhaled in a controlled fashion.

The order and judgment,which permanently bans the sale of any mislabeled, misbranded or unapproved drugs or intoxicants was signed by the Honorable Roger D. McDonough, Supreme Court, Albany County.

The order comes after Attorney General Schneiderman's office conducted an undercover investigation into head shops across the state. The investigation revealed that head shop retailers were selling designer drugs, including commonly known synthetics such as "bath salts" and "synthetic marijuana." Undercover investigators statewide also discovered head shop employees were promoting these dangerous synthetic drugs and advising consumers how to prepare and ingest them.

Under New York State's Labeling Law, the packaging of consumer commodities must, at a minimum, identify the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor, the common product name, the net quantity of contents, and the net quantity of servings, uses, or applications represented to be present with appropriate directions and warnings for customary use.

On July 10, the Attorney General filed 12 lawsuits against 16 head shop locations, including Shining Star. Within 36 hours of filing the lawsuits, the Attorney General's office obtained Temporary Restraining Orders from all 12 judges effectively removing the mislabeled products from the shelves. Monday's order permanently bans the retailer from selling designer drugs.Additionally, on August 1, the Attorney General filed a new lawsuit against Tebb's Head Shops for the sale of bath salts and synthetic drugs in violation of the state's labeling laws. Attorney General Schneiderman sued John Tebbetts, III of Rome, NY, who owns and operates a chain of eight head shops located throughout Central and Northern New York, for violating the state's labeling laws by selling designer drugs.

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.

The Attorney General's lawsuits also pursue retailers for the illegal sale of nitrous oxide to the public, a specific violation of the State Public Health Law. Commonly known as "Whip Its," nitrous oxide has been linked to several deaths by asphyxiation and other adverse health effects. The gas is typically used by youths who see it as an easy "high."

In addition to Shining Star, judges have issued orders removing all designer drugs from the following retailers sued by Attorney General Schneiderman:

  • Village Sensations in Nanuet (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued August 14)
  • Pavilion International (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued August 29)
  • Trip on the Wild Side II in Watertown (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued August 22)
  • Rolling Fire Glassworks in Endicott (Temporary order in place, next court date - February 20)
  • Goodfellas Alternative Smoke Shop in Utica (Store is no longer operating)
  • 20 Below/ This and That in Plattsburgh (Permanent court order and judgment banning sales issued October 23)
  • Twisted Headz in Syracuse (Permanent court order and judgment banning sales issued September 24)
  • Giggles in Poughkeepsie (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued September 5)
  • East Coast Psychedelics in Oceanside and Commack (Temporary order in place, court decision pending)
  • Tebb's Head Shops (eight locations) in Central and Northern NY (Temporary order in place, next court date - December 1)
  • Daze Smoke Shop in Baldwin (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued July 31)
  • Look Ah Hookah in Rochester (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued July 26)

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Hilary Rogers, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General In-Charge Deanna Nelson and under the overall supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Martin J. Mack.