Contact: Robert Soard
First Assistant County Attorney
Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan today in a lawsuit filed with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the City of Houston won a court order to prohibit the sale of synthetic marijuana products known as “Kush” at a local convenience store. The County Attorney, the Texas Attorney General’s Office, and City of Houston jointly sued Almeda Food Mart for distributing products containing the dangerous substance that has led to hundreds of recent hospitalizations and overdoses across Texas.
The lawsuit follows several undercover investigations performed by the Houston Police Department (HPD), which uncovered and seized more than 300 packages of the substance at the store.
“This product, commonly called ‘Kush,’ is especially dangerous because it is marketed to children,” County Attorney Ryan said. “The package labeling claims this product contains seemingly harmless substances. It actually contains hazardous chemicals.”
While synthetic marijuana is marketed as “safe,” the dangers of the substance are widely reported—including severe paranoia, psychotic episodes, violent delusions, kidney damage, suicidal thoughts and self-mutilation. There has been an alarming uptick in these reports in 2014-15.
“The growing reports of overdoses on this dangerous substance among our youth should concern every Texan,” Texas Attorney General Paxton said. “This illegal marketing of powerful and deadly drugs to children must be put to a stop. My office will continue to work with local authorities across Texas to send the message that businesses who choose to sell this substance will pay the price.”
HPD initiated the investigation following reports from paramedics with the Houston Fire Department of individuals overdosing on the drug from Almeda Food Mart, which is in close geographic proximity to several schools and shopping malls where youth congregate. Lab reports of the packages seized by HPD confirm that the products contain AB-CHMINACA and AKB48, both highly addictive and dangerous chemicals listed by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule 1 controlled substances, the most dangerous kind.
County Attorney Ryan, the AG’s Office and the City are alleging that Almeda Food Mart and its owners, Trung and Tamie Pham, have violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and common nuisance statutes under Texas law. The lawsuit is seeking a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction on all businesses associated with the store to prevent the sale of these products. A permanent injunction will be sought at trial.
In June, County Attorney Ryan and the AG’s Office coordinated with the Harris County Sheriff’s Department to investigate and sue four Houston-area Katz Boutiques, for distributing the substance and marketing it to children in the form of “Kush,” which is sold in various fruit flavors. A temporary injunction is in place and discovery is ongoing.
Court documents regarding Almeda Food Mart:
Court documents regarding prior petition and restraining order on Katz Boutique: