Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, and Attorney General Ken Paxton have obtained a $2.16 million judgment against Happie Hippie Smoke Shop for selling dangerous, illegal synthetic drugs.
Judge Michael Landrum of the 113th Civil District Court signed a default judgment on April 14th awarding the State $2.16 million in penalties and $17,224 in attorneys’ fees finding 108 violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The court ordered the operators to halt all activities related to the production, transfer, possession, or sale of controlled substances, including synthetic cannabinoids.
County Attorney Ryan joined by the AG’s office filed a lawsuit in October 2016 against the smoke shop located at 8908 North Freeway in Houston and its operators, Esam M. Ali-Hasan and James Ayling. They were accused of deceptively leading consumers to believe that illegal drugs sold at their business were safe and legal.
In a search of the apartment of the operators, police discovered pure synthetic cannabinoid crystals and foil packages. Police learned that Ali-Hasan and Ayling mixed synthetic cannabinoid crystals with acetone in a fifty-gallon fish tank and sprayed that mixture on dried leaves, which they then packaged and sold. Ayling told officers that 100-150 packets of synthetic cannabinoids were sold daily at the smoke shop.
Ayling and Ali-Hasan were charged with felony possession with intent to deliver synthetic cannabinoids.
“Store owners who choose to sell kush and ignore the law do so at their own peril,” County Attorney Ryan said. “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.”
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 rather 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. Under state law, it is a crime to manufacture, deliver or possess a synthetic cannabinoid.