Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, joined by the Texas Attorney General, obtained $1.175 million in civil fines and penalties against a Houston-area adult novelty retail chain for selling synthetic marijuana.
On August 31, District Court Judge Randy Wilson entered a final judgment against nine Houston area Katz Boutique & Smoke Shop stores and their owners, prohibiting them from selling or offering for sale synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs. Should any of the stores violate the court’s judgment, the store is to be closed for one year. Katz’s owners also paid $1.175 million in civil fines and penalties to the State of Texas and Harris County to resolve the case.
Katz’s owners agreed to pay the $1.175 million fine to settle lawsuits filed by the state and county. The lawsuits resulted from a series of undercover investigations by Harris County Sheriff’s Office narcotics officers that led to the seizure of more than 3,000 packets of synthetic marijuana. The investigation revealed the Katz stores had sold many thousands of packets of kush.
The penalty is the largest ever paid in Texas from a case involving the sale of synthetic marijuana.
Synthetic marijuana, also known as 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 often sold in colorful packets with flavors such as strawberry and blueberry to appeal to children, and is the second most abused drug by high school students after marijuana itself. It is also illegal in Texas. In June, 16 people were hospitalized after overdosing on kush in Hermann Park.
“Store owners who choose to sell kush and ignore the law do so at their own peril,” said County Attorney Ryan. “My office will continue the fight, together with law enforcement and state, county, and city officials, to put a stop to greedy store owners who sell these dangerous chemicals to our children. We will continue to seek substantial fines against them and shut down their businesses entirely if necessary.”