Online company accused of selling K2 in kid-friendly packaging in NYC sued by attorney general’s office
August 17, 2016
As published in the NY Daily News on August 16, 2016.
An online company accused of peddling K2 — a dangerous form of chemical marijuana — went on a court-ordered hiatus Tuesday after the Attorney General filed a lawsuit seeking to shut it down.
The web-based company, Legalherbalbud.com, claimed on its website that it sold “the cheapest most potent Herbal Incense around.”
It also said its incense — some sold in kid-friendly packages labeled “Scooby Snax” and “Incredible Hulk” — was “100% legal.”
The company, which ships all across the country, sent more than 123 packets of what the Attorney General’s office says is the dangerous K2 drug to investigators who pretended to be ordering from an East Harlem business.
The sting began in January, the Attorney General’s office said.
Along with the kid-friendly versions of the K2 mix, the store also sent packages labeled AK47, Black Lion, California Chronic, Caution, Diablo, Green Giant, Joker, Kisha Cole, Psycho, Red Eye Jack, Red Giant, Smacked and even one called iBlown — created to look like the screen of an iPhone, the AG said.
The court issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday prohibiting future sales for the website.
The company is operated by Niaz Khan, Phillip Pulcca, Aida Guach and Lisanka Sanchez, according to court papers.
The AG sued them for allegedly selling the street drug, which has turned entire blocks in parts of the city into a zombie wasteland littered with zonked-out users.
K2, or synthetic marijuana, is a subcategory of designer drugs made entirely of chemicals.
Billed by pushers as a legal high because it’s “cannabinoid free,” the dangerous mix of chemicals in K2 can cause hallucinations, bouts of mania, addiction, psychosis, acute arrhythmia, asphyxiation and in some cases, even death.
It’s most common side effect, however, is to leave users heavy-lidded and nearly-catatonic.
“The uptick in synthetic marijuana consumption and dramatic rise in ER visits last month in New York City is a stark reminder that the scourge of K2 continues to be a serious problem,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
“My office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute businesses and individuals who sell designer drugs,” he said.
According to the AG’s petition, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, an undercover investigation found Legalherbalbud.com was marketing its products as “legal highs” on its Facebook page.
Legalherbalbud.com also advertised its brands of synthetic marijuana as “herbal incense,” and “potpourri” — but also noted it was “not for human consumption” even as it touted its good as legal intoxicants to get users high.
It’s products had almost no label information and lacked comprehensive ingredient lists, warnings, and directions for use, as required by law, the lawsuit said.
The AG’s office asked for an accounting of all Legalherbalbud’s inventory, including the name, manufactuter and distributor of each product, the suit said.
A judge issued a temporary order shutting Legalherbalbud.com down after a review of the AG’s court filings.
Schneiderman’s office began a crackdown in 2012 to remove K2 from numerous head shops and online sellers across the state.
The Attorney General’s office has filed dozens of lawsuits against head shops and online merchants who sold the synthetic drug, which resulted in judges across the state issuing permanent injunctions barring 23 stores from selling these products.
A bad batch of K2 sold in Brooklyn last month sent 34 people to the ER over a matter of days.
The epicenter of the K2 epidemic shifted to a block between Myrtle Ave. and Broadway in Beford-Stuyvesant, where police raided several delis that were suspected of selling K2.
Before that, users lined the 125th St. corridor in East Harlem — until law enforcement efforts to kick K2 out of the stores shifted most of the illicit trade to Brooklyn.