WATERTOWN — A Watertown smoke shop found to be selling mislabeled and misbranded drugs has been ordered to pay a $10,000 penalty and turn unlawful revenue over to the state attorney general’s office.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced Wednesday that a contempt case had been settled against Kenneth W. Hamm, owner and operator of “headshop” Trip on the Wild Side II. An investigation by the office discovered the shop was selling misbranded and mislabeled kratom and cannabinol, or “CBD.”
“Misbranded and mislabeled drugs sold to the public are dangerous and illegal,” said Mr. Schneiderman in a statement announcing the settlement. “My office will continue to hold accountable businesses seeking to profit at the expense of New Yorkers as we take on the drug crisis facing our communities.”
The case was brought against Mr. Hamm in August 2017 in reference to several forms of CBD — including “Heady Harvest” CBD gummy bears, “Hemp Bomb” pills, CBD crumbles, CBD cartridges for vaping and CBD Cherry Syrup.
According to the AG Office, an undercover investigator was also told by employees the store was preparing to sell kratom products and gave him samples to try that were also mislabeled and misbranded.
Trip on the Wild Side II was required to turn over all remaining inventory of kratom and CBD products.
The shop was also found in violation of a 2012 court order that explicitly prohibited such illegal sales.
In 2012, Mr. Hamm agreed to pay $27,000 to the attorney general’s office, following a suit that alleged he had sold mislabeled products identified as synthetic and designer drugs. He was ordered to permanently remove the items, which went by names such as Cali Crunch, Zaney Bar, Lucky Kratom and Adarol Energy, along with containers of nitrous oxide.
The store, at 671 Mill St., was one of 16 stores sued by the attorney general’s office in July 2012. At the time, the office stated that the mislabeled products were available for purchase, and in some cases special instructions on using the products were provided to investigators by cashiers.
A permanent injunction was brought against the business by Mr. Schneiderman, prohibiting the sale of these street drug alternatives and subjecting the store to random on-site inspections for five years.
As part of the 2012 settlement, Mr. Hamm was not required to admit any wrongdoing.
In the newest settlement, Mr. Hamm must pay both a $10,000 fine and turn over all revenue from the sales of those drugs totaling $1,838. As of today, Trip on the Wild Side II is barred from selling the misbranded and mislabeled kratom and CBD.
In both cases, the products were found to be sold in an illegal and unsafe manner because they did not comply with state labeling and branding laws, failed to list usage directions, health warnings, dosage information, manufacturer information, or other information required by law.
In an announcement of the 2018 settlement, the AG’s office said the mislabeled drugs have similar psychoactive effects to commonly known street drugs but are often packaged innocuously, leading to the impression they are harmless.
“Designer drugs have contributed to a growing public health crisis in New York state and across the nation,” the announcement reads. “In Jefferson County, calls to poison control for synthetic drugs are up 250 percent since 2011, according to a 2016 report issued by the New York State Senate.”