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A.G. Schneiderman Announces New Crackdown On Sales Of Designer Drugs In Watertown

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman 

A.G. SCHNEIDERMAN ANNOUNCES NEW CRACKDOWN ON SALES OF DESIGNER DRUGS IN WATERTOWN

A.G. Obtains Settlement With The High Life, Files Motion For Contempt And Secures Restraining Order Against Trip On The Wild Side II For Illegally Selling Designer Drugs 

Both Watertown Headshops Sold Designer Drugs To Attorney General's Investigator On Multiple Occasions

To Date, A.G. Schneiderman Has Secured Permanent Injunctions Against 24 Stores Selling Designer Drugs  

WATERTOWN – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a crackdown on the sale of designer drugs in the Watertown area, including a settlement with well-known headshop The High Life that requires it to permanently cease all sales of the drugs and pay a hefty fine, as well as a motion for civil and criminal contempt and a restraining order against headshop Trip on the Wild Side II.

"Designer drugs are dangerous and deadly – driving a public health crisis here in New York and across the country," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "My office will do what it takes to clean the shelves of these mislabeled and misbranded poisons. Designer drugs are only one aspect of the drug crisis confronting New York, and we'll continue to pursue a multi-pronged strategy to crack down on traffickers and fight the scourge of addiction." 

These so-called "designer drugs" have psychoactive effects similar to those of more commonly known street drugs, but they are typically packaged with innocuous labels and graphics to give the misleading impression that they are harmless. Designer drugs have contributed to a growing public health crisis in New York State and across the nation. In Jefferson County, calls to poison control for synthetic drugs are up 250 percent since 2011, according to a 2016 report issued by the New York State Senate.

The Attorney General's settlement with The High Life, which is operated by Robert A. Flemming Enterprises, Inc., and Robert A. Flemming, requires the store to permanently cease the sales of designer drugs, remove all drugs from its shelves and pay a substantial fine. After Attorney General Schneiderman served The High Life with a notice of intention to commence litigation earlier this month, The High Life agreed to immediately discontinue advertising designer drugs, and entered into a binding agreement to comply with all applicable state, local and federal labeling requirements with respect to the sale, distribution and promotion of its products. As part of the settlement, The High Life also agreed to pay penalties of $35,000 to the state of New York.

The settlement follows an investigation commenced late last year, in which an Attorney General investigator made multiple drug purchases from The High Life.  As alleged in the Attorney General's assurance of discontinuance, The High Life sold designer drugs directly to consumers, including multiple formats of kratom, salvia divinorum, a Soviet-era prescription drug called “Limitless,” nitrous oxide (whip its), and other drug products.

Simultaneous with The High Life action, the Attorney General brought Kenneth Wayne Hamm d/b/a Trip on the Wild Side II, back to court on a motion for criminal and civil contempt, alleging that the store is selling designer drugs in violation of a 2012 consent order and judgment, wherein Trip paid the state $27,000 in costs and penalties.  On Friday, August 25, 2017, Attorney General Schneiderman secured a temporary restraining order against the store, prohibiting the sale of misbranded drugs while the Attorney General seeks jail time and monetary penalties.

Attorney General Schneiderman's lawsuit and TRO follows an investigation in which his office found that Trip on the Wild Side II was selling multiple formats of concentrated cannabinol (CBD), including “Heady Harvest” CBD gummy bears, “Hemp Bomb” pills, CBD crumbles, CBD cartridges for vaping, CBD Cherry Syrup, and “Blissful Remedies” kratom pills.

These types of designer drugs can pose serious health hazards, including addiction disorders, hallucinations, seizures, tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), extreme paranoia, panic, vomiting, suicidal and homicidal thoughts, and even death. Yet despite serious health concerns, the product warning labels consistently failed to identify potential dangers and other basic information.

The crackdown announced today marks the most recent win in a host of designer drug cases brought by the Attorney General’s Office to fight designer drug sales across the state. The initiative, which began in 2012, successfully removed street drug alternatives and designer drugs from the shelves of numerous head shops across New York. The Attorney General’s office has filed dozens of lawsuits against head shops that sold designer drugs, which resulted in judges across the state issuing permanent injunctions barring 24 stores from selling these products. The rulings came after the office showed the products were illegal because their contents were not properly labeled, thus violating state and federal laws. 

The investigations were conducted by Attorney General Investigator Chad Shelmidine. The cases are being handled by Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Watertown Regional Office, Deanna R. Nelson, and Assistant Attorney General Alicia M. Lendon.  The regional offices are led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Offices Martin J. Mack.

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