Press-Republican

October 26, 2012

P'burgh retailer liable for selling mislabeled synthetic drugs

By JOE LoTEMPLIO
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A Plattsburgh head-shop owner has been deemed liable for selling mislabeled drugs to consumers while claiming the products were merely “sachets” meant for room freshening.

A $16,000 penalty has been levied.

New York Acting Supreme Court Justice Kevin K. Ryan ruled that Carla Brotherton, owner of This and That and 20 Below on Bridge Street in downtown Plattsburgh, was liable for selling the products.

“It staggers the imagination to believe they were not intended to be consumed,” Ryan said in his ruling regarding the products in question.

“Simply put, the respondent (Brotherton) offered over-the-counter drugs for sale without providing the consumer with much of the information required by law.”

DESIGNER DRUGS

The court case was spurred after State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Office launched an undercover investigation in July 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,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The drugs have been documented as responsible for numerous incidents involving erratic and dangerous behavior among those who took them.

State labeling laws, according to Schneiderman’s office, say the packaging of consumer commodities must 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.

‘IMPORTANT TOOL’

Schneiderman said Ryan’s ruling citing the state’s existing label laws will help in the fight to remove such products from head-shop shelves.

“Judge Ryan saw through the fraud being perpetrated by this industry against our communities, and his ruling will be an important tool in dismantling the insidious growth of illicit, over-the-counter drug sales,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

The case also cited Brotherton for selling nitrous-oxide containers known as “Whip Its,” which are used by some youths who see it as an easy “high,” according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Whip Its have been linked to several deaths by asphyxiation, the office said.

Brotherton, who has been in business on Bridge Street for 26 years, says she has sold sachets but never bath salts. She said she sold nitrous oxide for the whipped cream at 20 Below, which was an ice cream parlor. She has since converted the shop into a deli and no longer sells nitrous oxide, she said.

‘NOT FAIR’

She said the sachets, which she was ordered to stop selling when the investigation was begun, are room fresheners and clearly say “not for human consumption.”

“I don’t know if anybody smokes them,” she said. “If they do, they should charge a stupid tax then, because it clearly says not to consume.”

Brotherton said she feels the state is not being fair by targeting retailers.

“If someone goes to a hardware store and buys a crowbar and kills someone with it, are you going to charge the hardware store?”

She said she will contact her attorney to discuss her options.

“Of course, I am going to fight this,” she said.

Email Joe LoTemplio: jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com