Contact: Terry O’Rourke
Special Assistant County Attorney
Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, won a jury verdict of $878,000 in civil penalties against the owner of Jams Smoke Shop, at 1319 FM 1960 near Ella Boulevard, for selling synthetic marijuana.
Synthetic marijuana, also called “Kush,” is a designer drug, typically manufactured overseas, that is marketed as a “safe” and “legal” alternative to marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana at all but a dried leafy substance that is sprayed with powerful, added-in hallucinogenic chemicals that are dangerous and highly addictive to the user. It is illegal in Texas. It is often sold in brightly colored bags and marketed to children, and is the second most abused drug by high school students, after marijuana itself. In recent years, retail convenience stores and smoke shops have been selling synthetic marijuana from under the sales counter.
On June 2, 2016, a Harris County jury in the 295th District Court heard evidence that the owner of Jams Smoke Shop, Jesse Flores, opened the shop in October 2015 and began selling synthetic marijuana, labeled “Geeked Up” and “Klimax” and “Babaji Essence.” A 10 gram bag (about the size and weight of a half pack of cigarettes) was sold for between $30 and $50 per bag. Witnesses testified that customers would stand in long lines at the shop to buy kush.
Officers with the Narcotics Task Force of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office described the undercover operations at the shop, resulting in one arrest of the store clerk and the seizure of over 6 kilos of synthetic marijuana. Testing by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences revealed that the chemical sprayed on the seized substances was so new that new protocols had to be developed to test it.
“The jury’s verdict sends a strong message to businesses that choose to sell these dangerous substances to our kids,” said County Attorney Ryan. “We will continue to use every tool available to our office to stop the sale of these drugs.”
The lawsuit is one of a series of civil actions taken by County Attorney Vince Ryan, in partnership with law enforcement and other agencies, using the state’s consumer protection and nuisance laws to combat businesses that sell synthetic marijuana.
Click here to read the lawsuit.