By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — Brett Scott, the owner of a chain of smoke and vape shops including Smokers Haven at Busy Corner in Laconia, this week pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a federal charge arising from the sale of improperly labelled synthetic cannabis, commonly known as "spice" or "K2."
The U.S. Attorney reported that agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration found that synthetic cannabis products, branded as "Colorado Kush" and "Ultra Peak," were being sold at Smoke N Discount in Epsom, one of the four stores owned and operated by Scott. In his plea agreement Scott agreed to forfeit $30,000 to the federal government. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12.
Synthetic cannabis is a leafy green material sprayed with chemicals that mimic tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive agent in marijuana, commonly known by its street names of "spice," "K2" and "Smacked." It is generally marketed as incense or potpourri in attractive packaging. Although often labelled "not for human consumption," these products are smoked to get high. The chemicals, which produce the high, are either illegal controlled substances or analogues of them, which may cause harmful side effects and have led to numerous hospitalizations.
Federal prosecutors charged that the synthetic cannabinoids sold at Smoke N Discount were labelled incorrectly in several ways. The products were described as not for human consumption when they were intended for just that. The labels indicated what the packages did not contain to suggest the products were not unlawful, but failed to identify the ingredients they did contain. The packaging bore no information about the manufacturer, packager or distributor of the products nor did carry adequate directions or warnings for using the products.
Last year Scott opened Smokers Haven at the corner of Winter Street.The inventory ranges from the conventional to the exotic, to include tobacco, cigarettes, rolling papers, pipes, water pipes, vaporizers, electric cigarettes, incense and other accessories. The store also houses a hookah lounge, or shisha bar, where patrons can enjoy as many as 100 flavors of mu'assel or shisha, a syrupy tobacco mix laced with molasses and flavored with fruits, herbs and even gummy bears.
In the summer of 2014, Gov. Maggie Hassan declared a state of emergency after 40 residents of Manchester suffered severe reactions to synthetic cannabinoids. A year later the New Hampshire Legislature prohibited the possession and sale of synthetic cannabinoids. Under the state law, possession of synthetic cannibinoids is a Class B misdemeanor that carries a fine. The sale of synthetic cannabinoids, is a Class A felony punishable by fines of up to $2,000 and sentences of up to 15 years in prison.
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