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In Glens Falls, charge dismissed in ‘synthetic marijuana’ case

2013-04-24T13:42:00Z In Glens Falls, charge dismissed in ‘synthetic marijuana’ caseDON LEHMAN - dlehman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
April 24, 2013 1:42 pm  • 

GLENS FALLS -- A criminal charge filed last summer against a store clerk accused of having illegal “synthetic marijuana” products for sale at his store has been dismissed after tests found no banned substances in the items that were seized, officials said.

Police this week returned a bag full of “herbal incense” products seized last July at the Smoke ‘N Save shop on Park Street after it was found they were not illegal.

A misdemeanor count of prohibited sale of synthetic marijuana filed against the clerk who was working when police seized the items — Morgan A. Wells, 38, of Glens Falls — was dismissed late last week in Glens Falls City Court.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan said tests at a police laboratory found no banned substances in the products.

The case was the first prosecution under Warren County’s law that took effect last spring to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana products that had been blamed for dozens of health problems among users in the region.

The items are generally leafy substances sold in vials that cost $20 to $50. While the packages indicate they are not to be used for human consumption, most purchasers buy them to smoke and many have adverse reactions to the chemicals that they believe can give them a high.

Products seized last July included some produced by brands like Wild Lettuce Opium, Blast Off, Nirvana and Wicked X.

Matt Harris, owner of the Smoke ‘N Save chain, said he incurred several thousand dollars in legal bills defending against charges that shouldn’t have been filed in the first place.

“There was nothing synthetic,” he said. “These are herbs you can find at any health food store.”

He said his staff was confident the items were legal, but pulled them from the shelves at all of its stores after police charged Wells.

“This hurt our business,” he said.

Harris said police should not have filed any charges until the products were tested and it was determined they were illegal. He said Internet searches could have determined that the brands in question did not contain any banned chemicals.

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(5) Comments

  1. theMaven
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    theMaven - April 25, 2013 12:37 pm
    I stand corrected, all the people involved work for free, and whether or not we clog the system with busywork cases, we would still need the same number of officials at every level no matter what the justification, or lack thereof. How could I have missed this simple logic, I guess if you added up all the time of court people, jailers, police, bailiffs, lab techs, investigators, custodians, stenographers, printers, lawyers, secretaries etc, and tried to attach an hourly cost to them all based on their salaries, the figure would be zero. Heck, I guess with numbthink, it means that the whole legal system is free? If you took all the expenses on a pro rata basis, it is still my argument that this case cost the taxpayers in the 5 figures, NOTHING in government is free.
  2. politicoQB
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    politicoQB - April 24, 2013 11:59 pm
    Ok Dumbsense, so if your point is extrapolated out, it should be okay for folks to bring home as many office supplies work as they need, since those supplies would be purchased whether I took them or not.
    Or, it doesn't really matter if I steal cable tv from a neighbor since the cable company is already sending out those signals.
    You miss the point of taxpayer services as being the allotment of scarce resources.
    What about the man-hours and salary and time being spent on barking up the wrong tree (or no tree at all)...?
    I think this case probably used up a bit more than "a few chemicals for testing ..."
  3. numbsense
    Report Abuse
    numbsense - April 24, 2013 9:18 pm
    I'm only going to address one point of this reply that is truly incorrect and often repeated by unknowing individuals... To be clear, hardly ever are substantial fees incurred by prosecuting 99% of criminal cases. Take this case for example, the only additional fee incurred was the cost of the chemicals needed to test the suspected fake pot. Everyone else involved is salaried and getting paid regardless of the case they are working on. This goes for the prosecutor, the police, the lab tech, the judge, bailiff, etc. etc. etc.. So, while I understand from the tv commercial that everything you read on the internet is true, I bounce this back to theMaven to explain what the "tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal fees" is need for.
  4. politicoQB
    Report Abuse
    politicoQB - April 24, 2013 5:03 pm
    If it is true what Mr. Harris says -- that an internet search of the brands he carried turned up none of the illegal substances -- then Ms Hogan, her office, and the "detectives" involved with this case have grave cause for embarrassment and reduced credibility.
    While I do believe that none of that poisonous junk made in labs has any right to be sold for consumption, I do believe a business owner has a right to sell legal herbs. And the right to expect that he will not be arrested by someone not smart enough to read a label and look up the ingredients.
    Could have saved money and resources with a tad more smarts.
  5. theMaven
    Report Abuse
    theMaven - April 24, 2013 4:10 pm
    "Harris said police should not have filed any charges until the products were tested and it was determined they were illegal. He said Internet searches could have determined that the brands in question did not contain any banned chemicals."


    Silly law abider, why should the cops wait until they have evidence of law breaking to arrest someone, don't you know in Amerika you are guilty until proven innocent? That's as fundamental as are our search and seizure laws, or our Constitutional right not to bear whatever arms big brother doesn't want us to have. Why should we expect the DA to do a simple internet search, when they can waste 9 months, and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars in legal fees, police time, lab time and misc?

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