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Post date: September 25 2012

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

Owner Of Twisted Headz To Pay $27,000 For Violating State Labeling Laws

Schneiderman: Creative Labeling Law Approach Gets Swift Results In Removing Dangerous Synthetic Drugs From Store Shelves

SYRACUSE — Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that a judge has 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 of  Twisted Headz in Syracuse. In addition to the removal of these harmful products, former owner Gary Schiffer and Twisted Headz, LLC must also pay a total of $27,000 in penalties and costs.

"The proliferation of synthetic drugs has become a crisis in Onondaga County, 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 synthetic drug epidemic."

As part of Attorney General Schneiderman's undercover investigation, agents went into "Twisted Headz," located on 921 North Salina St. in Syracuse, and purchased substances labeled "Permagrin" and "White Rhino," which are products marketed as "potpourri" and both explicitly labeled "NOT MEANT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION."

A store clerk then recommended a type of pipe to use in order to achieve the best effect from the substances, which the investigator bought. In addition, the agent purchased a package of "kratom," an extremely potent plant with opiate-like effects, Fly Agaric Mushrooms, a well-known psychedelic, and a charger of 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 Anthony J. Paris, Supreme Court, Onondaga 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 Twisted Headz. 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 Twisted Headz, judges issued temporary orders removing synthetic 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 (Next court date - September 28)
  • Goodfellas Alternative Smoke Shop in Utica (Store is no longer operating)
  • 20 Below/ This and That in Plattsburgh (Next court date - October 12)
  • Shining Star Enterprises in Albany (Next court date - October 19)
  • Giggles in Poughkeepsie (Permanent order and judgment banning sales issued September 5)
  • East Coast Psychedelics in Oceanside and Commack (Next court  date - September 27)
  • Tebb's Head Shops (eight locations) in Central and Northern NY (Next court date - September 27)
  • 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 Judith Malkin 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.

Click HERE for a video message from Attorney General Schneiderman.

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