Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, have asked a Harris county judge to shut down a La Porte Freeway gas station and convenience store for one year for disobeying a courts order to stop selling synthetic marijuana.
One of the store’s owners, Hazim Hisham Qadus, was among 16 people arrested by federal authorities on May 17 and charged with conspiracy to distribute synthetic marijuana and money laundering.
Synthetic marijuana, also called “Kush,” is a designer drug, typically manufactured overseas, that is marketed as a “safe” and “legal” alternative to marijuana. It is often marketed as harmless “potpourri” or “incense.” 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 marketed to children, and is the second most abused drug by high school students, after marijuana itself.
In April, County Attorney Vince Ryan and the Attorney General’s Office filed suit against Qadus and the other owners of Moon Mart, 10010 La Porte Freeway, Houston, to stop the sale of synthetic marijuana. Narcotics officers from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston Police Department, working undercover, purchased synthetic marijuana in packages labeled “Klimax.” The packages were hidden under the sales counter, and the officers had to ask for it by name.
On April 20th the Court ordered the store to stop selling synthetic marijuana, but on May 5 Houston police officers seized over 2 pounds of synthetic marijuana at Moon Mart and arrested the store clerk who had an outstanding felony warrant for delivery of synthetic cannabinoids.
Today’s filing asks the court to shut down the store for one year for continuing to sell synthetic marijuana in violation of the court’s order and Texas law.
“Our office is committed to fighting the illegal marketing and sale of these powerful and dangerous drugs to our kids,” said County Attorney Ryan. “We will continue to send the message that businesses that choose to sell these substances will face the consequences, including shutting down their business if necessary.”
Today’s filing 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 laws to combat businesses that sell synthetic marijuana.