After Latest Bust, Dallas Should Probably Lay Off the (Fake) Pot

Categories: Drugs

Spice_Synthetic_Substance.jpg
In a perfect example of why it's best -- if you're looking to run a successful drug empire -- to keep the manufacturing and distribution arms of your outfit separate, the Drug Enforcement Administration moved to seize 35 financial accounts, six cars, jewelery, almost $20,000 in cash, seven gold Canadian "Maple Leaf" coins and 18 properties from Lawrence Shahwan of Lewisville, Gas Pipe head shop owner Jerry Shults and others associated with the Texas and New Mexico-based chain.

According to court documents, the seizure comes after a months-long investigation consisting primarily of federal agents going to Gas Pipe shops and purchasing what the documents call "synthetic marijuana," but is more accurately described as a varying cocktail of hallucinogenic chemicals mixed with a plant base. The substance is packaged as potpourri or incense or something else that shouldn't be ingested. Before July 2012, synthetic marijuana was legal. That month, President Obama banned it. It's now just as illegal as actual marijuana.

The DEA alleges that Shults partnered with Shahwan -- who's currently sitting in Lew Sterrett jail on an apparently unrelated distribution charge for actual marijuana -- first as an exclusive distributor for Shahwan's synthetics, and then as a manufacturer after Shahwan had to shut down production when several of his employees were jailed on unrelated charges.

Shults, the documents say, added a special room to Gas Pipe's Maple Avenue headquarters to make and bag the drugs and paid a Shahwan employee $50,000 to train his staff for the production process.

In the last year, Dallas has been a hotbed for incidents involving the (not so) good stuff.

Last June, the DEA targeted the smoke shops that line Harry Hines Boulevard for selling synthetic marijuana and an Irving man's neighbors sued him for burning down their building while trying to make his own. In October, Wayne Joseph Sweeney, the owner of Dallas' Hostile Pipes, was arrested for allegedly making millions distributing his special "KO" blend from his store, according to court documents.

The worst came over a five-day stretch that ended in early May of this year. In a little less than a week, according to news reports, almost 120 Texans were hospitalized after ingesting K2, a popular synthetic marijuana blend. The bad batch, according to police, came from Dallas.

The latest bust, which was first reported by local news outlets yesterday, is one of the biggest synthetic drug busts in U.S. history. According to the federal complaint, properties to be confiscated include Fort Worth's historic Ridglea Theater -- which is owned by Shults and shares a building with a Gas Pipe -- and the $1.3 million Highland Park home of one of Gas Pipe's managers. The company's headquarters and manufacturing center are on the list, as well.

For now, Gas Pipe's stores remain open, pending the forfeiture proceeding and lawsuit. We tried calling the stores, just to see how everything was going, and were hung up on. Shults also did not respond to an interview request.


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50 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

For those novices out there -- like the media and the cops -- the reality is that when "spice" broke mainstream USA -- from England and Europe --  about 4-5 years ago, the synthetic cannabinoids that were used to make it were the safest and most similar to natural THC in molecular structure, function and effect.


When the DEA jumped in and Emergency Scheduled JWH-018 and a half-dozen others of the popularly used synthetics a couple years ago -- making them Schedule 1 illegal like Heroin, LSD, etc -- the producers and manufacturers switched to other synthetic cannabinoids further down the desirability list to remain illegal. 


Thus began the legal chase from safer chems to less safe chems, that's been going on for the last few years, and the deterioration of safety and the introduction of more deleterious and unwanted side effects.


The problematic synthetics are the Phenethylamines -- "bath salts" -- which mimic already illegal amphetamines and hallucinogens, and have a much stronger and more unpredictable physiological, emotional and mental effect than any cannabiniod ever could, synthetic or natural.


So as you noted, the Prohibitionists have DIRECTLY caused this race to the bottom, along with all the predictable undesirable blowback.


Same as when the Federal crackdown on Marijuana smuggling in the 1970s -- with draconian penalties -- spawned and directly caused the Cocaine explosion of the 1980s.


It is a game of Whack-a-Mole ... and some moles are far more evil than the ones being whacked, and best left in their holes.


TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

The worst part of this whole thing is that the "Spice" genie is out of the bottle. In their zeal to protect us from ourselves, the Puritans have succeeded only in bringing a whole bunch of dangerous substitutes to market along with all of the problems associated with these untested substances.

Good jorb, prohibitionists.

penino
penino

There will always be a large number of adulterated marijuana if it is not legalized and regulated by the federal government. People should stop risking their lives and turn on to the good things in life. http://ow.ly/xKIvm

halldecker
halldecker

what the Hell, they all look alike ......

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "Before July 2012, synthetic marijuana was legal. That month, President Obama banned it. It's now just as illegal as actual marijuana."


False.


The DEA only banned -- emergency scheduled -- a small list of specific chemicals.


Many manufacturers simply switched to alternate chemicals not on the banned list. 


There are dozens of synthetic cannabinoids that are not banned.


halldecker
halldecker

1990's US Supreme Court decision, 9-zip,  hammered head shop operations,  "We know what goes on in there,  and you ain't selling all that milk sugar to coffee shops!" Feds did a shiv into Cheech Marin,  making him the example of what could happen.


The three or four chain-store operations in Dallas punted,   negotiated a deal with the Dallas DA and Vice,  if x % percent of their income was from things that weren't always used for drugs,  e.g.,  hookahs and expensive pipes were ok,  they wouldn't get busted.


Jerry was the only one I saw who didn't take the deal,  he prospered while everybody else got into tattoo supplies and cigars and selling  delicate scales to weigh your food so you wouldn't eat more than a gram or two of salt everyday.  Never used for drugs,  of course.  


Q somebody in media needs to ask,  junk was made illegal by the Feds in July 2012.  Appears the industry was huga-fied just after that, new headshops are all over DFW.   It's taken Lord hows may Feds two years to make a case?  It wasn't a secret that the manufacturing and distribution was starting on Maple Avenue.  It wasn't a secret a month ago that it was some dangerous shit. 


What kept Feds from busting these guys last October,  at time of the Harry Hines busts.  I got three good guesses,  and I know which two of them are wrong.


Dig deeper,  guys.



Tim.Covington
Tim.Covington

I have a friend who works in an emergency room in the area. She says the side effects from the fake weed can be horrendously bad. She blames it on quality control being so bad on this stuff.

1. To me it is just another reason to legalize real weed.

2. If you are going for a high like you would get from weed, just do weed.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

How many bankers have gone to prison for laundering (lots and lots and lots) drug money?


How many people are in jail/prison for possession of weed?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Obama signed the ban. His DEA conducted the raids. His DOJ (who hasn't been in a rush to prosecute things Obama approves of, like black panthers intimidating voters or the IRS abusing conservatives) is prosecuting.

Tell me again how voting dem is going to end the drug war?

paulpsycho78
paulpsycho78

AMERICA where no one is free and we have the 5% of the worlds population and 23.4% of the world's prison system population.

JustSaying
JustSaying

I actually smoked some of that shit before it was illegal a few years ago. It did mimic weed if you just smoked one small bowl but it was too unpredictable. I have one friend that I have seen under the influence of virtually every recreational drug known to mankind. That synthetic weed was the only thing that ever made him wig out. That was worth 1000 of those NBC The More You Know PSAs that I saw as a kid.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

For as long as we have been around, we have always looked for substances that make us feel happy or give us euphoria.  It isn't going to stop anytime soon.


Prohibition just makes those substances all that more alluring.


Does anyone here remember, or will admit to, buying alcohol while underage?

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

President Obama banned it

Everyone knew when Obama banned it, usage would unexpectedly increase.

Sayswho
Sayswho

@DonkeyHotay  Well that is about the most bogus bit of information I have ever heard.  You sound like you know what you are talking about but to those of us that actually understand chemistry it is complete junk...Go back to your high school chemistry class...JWH-018 is nothing like marijuana and even John W. Huffman admitted that...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bvckvs ... because citizens should be DENIED any right to control and decide what they put into their own bodies!



PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs It seems that the author is implying that the citizens of Dallas should lay off the fake pot.


You don't substitute for English teachers do you?  Certainly not reading comprehension...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@penino ... what idiot would beg the Government to Regulate anything they actually cared about?



xdarkridex
xdarkridex

@halldecker Chong.  Tommy Chong. Cheech Marin got off with the punishment of playing second banana to Don Johnson for a few years.

JFPO
JFPO

Sure, as soon as you tell me how voting for Ted Cruz or Louie Gohmert will help end it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@everlastingphelps

Tell me again how voting dem is going to end the drug war?

Because they'll redefine "Drug" and "War".

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@paulpsycho78

And crime is on a downward trend, oddly enough.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@TPFKAP

Does anyone here remember, or will admit to, buying alcohol while underage?

You TABC guys will try anything. Don't do it folks, there's no statute of limitations. Seriously though, I just keep a knot of bufo alvarius around for social occasions.

Hot.Sauce
Hot.Sauce topcommenter

@sayswho. you have no clue

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JFPO

Cruz seems more states-rights oriented, so he is likely amenable to solutions along those lines.

He has a tendency, however, to stress the legal aspect of federal behavior, that might be problem if he were president with an opposing congress, he might be reluctant to lie, skirt the system and selectively enforce or ignore select laws, but one can hope!

"I think we can have an intelligent conversation about drug policy, and the degree to which it may or may not be achieving the ends we hope it would achieve."

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@TheRuddSki


5-MeO-DMT has been added to the CSA Schedule I, effective January 19, 2011. 


This means it is illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, or distribute (sell, trade or give) without a DEA license

christopher.ament
christopher.ament

@bvckvs @TheRuddSki Why the hell you do people talk like this to each other. Call me a moron to my face, could be grounds for getting punched. Why dont you guys talk like you would if you werent hidden behind the wall of the internet.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@bvckvs

Read twice, post once.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs You don't find this statement to be indicative of the intent of the title?

"The worst came over a five-day stretch that ended in early May of this year. In a little less than a week, according to news reports, almost 120 Texans were hospitalized after ingesting K2, a popular synthetic marijuana blend. The bad batch, according to police, came from Dallas."

Please clarify whether you suck at reading or understanding.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@feldnick

The jail-able categories are, yet the prisons are full.

I just don't get it.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@JustSaying

I didn't read but a paragraph, then I had a flashback!

Someone should have given her some shrooms to lighten her up.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@TheRuddSki 

Fox Butterfield just called and wants his obtuse observation back.

christopher.ament
christopher.ament

lol, well I dont like to see people down each other in comments or taking personal shots at each other. I am compelled to scold people these days for being dicks to each other in social media.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @penino


... a lithium based grease works best, providing lubrication and helping with the concomitant depression

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@bvckvs "Scolding people for scolding people - that's a dumb, fucking cycle to get yourself stuck in."


So you're against Capital Punishment, eh?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs Says the man who is the local expert on fucking dumb...

Dude, please go look in the mirror and punch yourself in the face for us all.  Please.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@PlanoDave

Video, we want video.

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

@bvckvs  So, you feel that ad hominem attacks on people you have never met are acceptable, but suggestions that you take the honorable approach of self-punishment are inappropriate? 

That is a very telling statement about your character, Sanders Kaufman.

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