A.G. Schneiderman Secures Temporary Restraining Order Prohibiting Saranac Lake Head Shop, “The Grateful Toad,” From Selling Mislabeled Designer Drugs

Seeks Permanent Injunction And Fines Against The Grateful Toad Shop Schneiderman: My Office Will Continue To Use Every Tool In Our Arsenal To Combat The Growing And Dangerous Designer Drug Epidemic

PLATTSBURGH—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced today that he has secured a temporary order barring Jason Ashley and his head shop, “The Grateful Toad” at 13 Broadway Street, Saranac Lake, from selling improperly labeled designer drugs.  Schneiderman also filed papers seeking a permanent injunction against Ashley and thousands of dollars in penalties and costs. The order was signed by State Supreme Court Judge John Ellis.

“The proliferation of illegal designer drugs is a national health crisis that is hurting New York families and communities, and my office has successfully stopped more than 20 head shops across our state from selling these dangerous drugs” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to use every tool in our arsenal to combat the growing and dangerous designer drug epidemic.”

The legal action follows an undercover investigation late last year in which an investigator purchased from Ashley the botanical drug “Kratom” in e-liquid, capsule, and tea powder forms.  Kratom is a real plant species collected solely for its drug effect, and was being marketed and promoted as a drug by Ashley, so it must meet the labeling requirements for a drug. Under New York State's labeling laws, the packaging of consumer commodities must identify the name and place of business of the manufacturer, the common product name, the net quantity of contents, and the net quantity of servings, uses, or applications, along with appropriate directions and warnings.  The Kratom products sold by Ashley at “The Grateful Toad” included little or none of the required labeling. The packaging indicated only that Kratom should not be used by nursing or pregnant women. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned of serious side effects such as decreased breathing, aggression, sleeplessness, hallucinations, delusions, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and severe withdrawal symptoms. Kratom is not an FDA approved dietary ingredient.  The FDA has listed Kratom (banned in its country of origin) as a “drug of concern.” 

Designer drugs have contributed to a public health crisis in New York State and across the nation, and attempts to stop their spread by outlawing specific chemicals have been of limited success. The undercover operation and legal action against The Grateful Toad are part of an ongoing effort by Schneiderman’s office to curtail the sale of “designer drugs.” 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 22 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.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney Christopher Fleury of the Attorney General’s Plattsburgh Regional Office with the assistance Investigators Chad Shelmidine and Justin Rebideau, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Martin J. Mack.

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