PLATTSBURGH — A head shop in Plattsburgh is among 16 named in a state lawsuit, much to the owner’s surprise.
“I’ve been in business here for 26 years and never had a problem, and now they are doing this?” said Carla Brotherton, owner of This and That at 33 Bridge St. in downtown Plattsburgh.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a dozen lawsuits against head-shop retailers across the state, including This and That and 20 Below, an ice cream parlor next door that Brotherton also owns.
Head shops are known for carrying a variety of items such as “bongs” or “bowls” that are used to smoke marijuana, and other drug paraphernalia.
The suit claims the stores violated the state’s labeling laws by selling designer drugs, including commonly known synthetics such as “bath salts” and fake marijuana.
The investigation also showed that store employees were teaching customers how to use the dangerous substances.
There are many documented instances of the erratic and dangerous behavior people exhibit while under the influence of such substances.
In March, Angela I. Roberts and Carl R. Burns Jr. of Tupper Lake, missing in the Adirondacks for a few days and subjects of a massive search, told police they thought they were being pursued by people who meant them harm. Police said they were under the influence of a substance that made them paranoid.
Schneiderman’s office named other examples, including one in Jefferson County, where a 22-year-old man crashed into several cars at an Olive Garden restaurant and told police he had smoked “spice” before driving, the release said.
In New York City, a 21-year-old film student leaped to his death off a Roosevelt Island balcony after smoking salvia, a hallucinogenic plant.
In Oneida County, a 45-year-old man high on bath salts and covered in his own blood was arrested after police say he chased his neighbor and trapped her in her home.
In Plattsburgh, an undercover operation revealed that a senior investigator, during a visit to This and That and 20 Below, purchased a number of substances marked as “sachets” or “aroma” under the names “Avalanche” and “Bizarro,” along with a device used for smoking those substances, according to the news release.
The agent also bought a case of nitrous-oxide chargers with the paraphernalia used to ingest the gas.
The containers of nitrous oxide have a “do not inhale” label, but the release said the store clerk sold the investigator a “cracker” device used for breaking the seal on the chargers, as well as a “balloon” designed to allow inhalation of the gas at a controlled pace.
Brotherton said she does sell sachets, which are small packets of aroma materials, and she nor her one other employee never instructed anyone on how to smoke it.
“I would love to see someone (from the Attorney General’s office) come in here face to face with me and tell me who gave out instructions on how to smoke this,” she said.
She also adamantly denied that she ever sold bath salts or synthetic marijuana.
“I’ve never sold that stuff and never would,” she said.
Brotherton also said that she has nitrous oxide for the whipped cream at the ice cream store, but would never sell the chargers illegally.
The lawsuit is seeking an immediate end to the sale of mislabeled drugs. It also is seeking an accounting of all commodities sold or offered for sale, including the name of the product, the manufacturer and or distributor, product description, the retail price and the number of units sold.
Brotherton she has not heard much from the Attorney General’s Office, but would cooperate with the case. She said she sells products that are legal, and what people do with them is up to them.
“Instead of passing all these laws, they should spend more time making people accountable for themselves,” she said.