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AG suit alleges shops sold illegal drugs

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed lawsuits against 16 “head shop” retailers across the state, including shops in Syracuse, Binghamton, and Utica, after an undercover investigation into the sale of illegal synthetic drugs.

According to Schneiderman, the shops violated the state’s labeling laws for selling synthetic drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

Shops named in the suit include Twisted Headz in Syracuse, Rolling Fire Glassworks in Binghamton, and Goodfellas Alternative Smoke Shop in Utica.


“The proliferation of illegal synthetic drugs has become a national crisis,” Schneiderman said in a news release. “In Binghamton and across the state, our undercover investigations have revealed the widespread sales and promotion of bath salts and other dangerous drugs that are destroying people’s lives.

“We discovered that head shop employees were giving tutorials on how to use dangerous intoxicants. With today’s actions, we are fighting back to control this crisis and ensure that the days of profiting off the illegal sale of these dangerous drugs are over.”

During the undercover video investigation, investigators discovered head shops were labeling the drugs with innocuous names and marketing them with false descriptions such as incense, butterfly attractant, glass cleaner, or dietary supplements. Some products had no label whatsoever and most lacked comprehensive ingredient listings. All were deceptive and dangerous to consumers, according to the attorney general’s office.

Federal and state laws and regulations required that all consumer commodities, at a minimum, be labeled with net contents, identity of the product, and the name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, and distributor.

The attorney general’s lawsuits also pursue retailers for the illegal sale of nitrous oxide to the public. Know as “Whip Its,” nitrous oxide has been linked to several deaths by asphyxiation and other adverse health effects.

During the investigation, investigators from the attorney general’s office shopped at a number of head shops across the state, entering each store and purchasing a representative sample of illegally labeled intoxicants. Investigators said they captured the transactions and interactions with store personnel using undercover video.

The attorney general’s lawsuit was filed in 12 counties across the state and seeks an immediate end to the sale of mislabeled drugs. In addition, the suit seeks an accounting of all commodities sold or offered for sale including the name of the product, the manufacturer and distributor, a description of the product, the price, and the number of units sold.

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