AG taking head shops to court for selling synthetic drugs

Jul 10, 2012

The state's top cop is cracking down on stores that sell dangerous designer drugs.  More than a dozen so-called "head shops" across New York, including one in Buffalo, are headed to court.

The sale of synthetic drugs in head shops has contributed to a public health crisis in New York and across the nation, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The attorney general has filed lawsuits against 16 retailers for violating the state's labeling laws by selling designer drugs known as "bath salts" and "synthetic marijuana." 

The products usually come brightly packaged with names like Bizzaro, AMPED, and VOODOO, and are described as incense, glass cleaner, dietary supplements or other household products. They are known to cause violent reactions, posing a danger for both the user and for first responders. 

On Main Street in University Heights, undercover agents also bought the potent herb Salvia and nitrous oxide or "whip-its" from Pavilion International. 

Schneiderman says the head shop employees even gave tutorials on using the dangerous intoxicants. He says some products had no label and most lacked a list of ingredients.

"By forcing these retailers to abide by the state's labeling laws and get these unlabeled products off their shelves, we're fighting back," Schneiderman said Tuesday.

Schneiderman says the days of profiting off the illegal sale of dangerous synthetic drugs are over.  Attempts at outlawing the chemicals has fallen short, as chemists alter their formula to stay one step ahead of the legislation.