CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says a permanent injunction has been entered against the owner of a Georgia-based business that sold illegal synthetic drugs in West Virginia.
Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers fined Drew Green, the owner of the now-defunct Nutragenomics Manufacturing LLC, $375,000 in civil penalties for violating the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act by misleading customers and mislabeling the chemicals his company sold over the phone and online. Additionally, the court ordered Green to pay $18,357.54 in restitution.
“This injunction is a victory for our state,” Morrisey said. “Shutting down the marketers and distributors of these illegal drugs is critical to helping end the scourge of drug addiction that plagues our state.”
Synthetic drugs are chemicals that are specifically designed to mimic the effects of marijuana, methamphetamine, and other controlled substances. They are sold as “incense,” “plant food,” or “bath salts” and while labeled as “not for human consumption” are marketed online as a way for users to get high. Manufacturers frequently alter the compounds used to make synthetic drugs in order to evade state and federal laws.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office began investigating Green and Nutragenomics in early 2012. That investigation led to federal agents seizing Nutragenomics’ assets. Later that year, Green pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in U.S. District Court in Louisiana. Green was sentenced to 117 months in prison in December 2014.
Nutragenomics filed for bankruptcy in December 2012.
Earlier this year, Morrisey joined 42 other state and territorial attorneys general in a letter asking British Petroleum, Chevron Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Marathon Petroleum Corp., Phillips 66, Shell Oil Co., Sunoco, and Valero Energy Corp to collaborate with franchisees to help eliminate illegal synthetic drugs from gas stations and convenience stores.
“The fact that synthetic drugs have been available at locations operating under respected brand names has only exacerbated an already growing problem,” the letter states. “Young people are the most likely to use these dangerous drugs, and their availability in stores operating under well-known brands gives the appearance of safety and legitimacy to very dangerous products.”