KANSAS CITY, KAN. - A Lawrence man who helped launch a global sales and supply network for smokable synthetic cannabinoids (synthetic marijuana) and other designer drugs was sentenced Monday to federal prison for violating the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said.
Bradley Miller, 57, Lawrence, Kan., was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of misbranding and one count of mail fraud. In his plea, he admitted he conspired with his brother, co-defendant Clark Sloan, and Sloan’s son, co-defendant Jonathan Sloan, to manufacture and sell designer drugs, including a marijuana substitute called K2 that was named after the second-highest mountain in the world.
Miller and Jonathan Sloan owned and operated Persephone’s Journey, a retail store at 1103 Massachusetts in Lawrence, Kan., and Bouncing Bear Botanicals, 14501 South U.S. 59 Highway, Oskaloosa, Kan. Both businesses ostensibly sold herbs and botanical products.
Over time, the business grew to encompass a chain of suppliers, retailers, wholesalers and business associates with locations in Kansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada and Indiana, as well as in other nations including Argentina, Latvia, Germany, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay. The defendants made at least $3.3 million from the sale of the drugs
Miller developed recipes for K2 and manufactured it. During the Sloans’ trial, prosecutors presented evidence that:
- The defendants manufactured and distributed K2 as an “all natural product” but it contained synthetic chemicals called JWH Compounds that mimic the effects of the THC in marijuana. Their products also contained solvents, either the alcohol Everclear or acetone, as well as other additives.
- They manufactured and sold at least four types of K2 products: Standard, Citron, Blonde and Summit, with Standard being the least potent and Summit being the most potent, depending on the amount of JWH Compounds that were mixed with herbs.
- The defendants manufactured the K2 without quality controls, resulting in inconsistent potencies. They intended K2 products to be smoked like marijuana by recreational drug users, but they falsely referred to K2 products as aromatic incense and falsely labeled them as “not for consumption.”
“Protecting the public health lies at the core of FDA’s and Office of Criminal Investigation’s mission,” said Catherine Hermsen, special agent in charge, FDA Office of Criminal Investigation, Kansas City Field Office. “When innocent-appearing products disguise their actual ingredients, their safety cannot be assured. We will continue to work to bring to justice those who would endanger the public health.”
Grissom commended the Food and Drug Administration - OCI, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi for their work on the case.