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February 10, 2015

Miller, State Attorneys General Ask Major Gasoline & Convenience Retailers to Eliminate Synthetic Drug Sales

Attorneys general from 40 states, plus D.C., concerned about synthetic drug sales at branded gas stations and convenience stores

(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general today asked nine oil companies to collaborate with their franchisees to help eliminate synthetic drugs from retail locations operating under their brand names, including gas stations and convenience stores.

The use of synthetic drugs has increased dramatically over the past four years.  In 2010, more than 11,000 people, many of whom were younger than 17, were treated in U.S. emergency rooms after using synthetic marijuana.  During the first half of 2014, the New York City Department of Health reported a 220% increase in emergency room visits due to synthetic marijuana ingestion.

In their letter sent to the oil companies, Miller and state attorneys general expressed concern over the problem of gas stations and convenience stores operating under brand names of reputable oil companies and selling illegal and extremely dangerous synthetic drugs.  Many of these well-known retail locations give the appearance of safety and legitimacy to dangerous synthetic products.

“These are harmful products that in some cases are sold under the corporate flag,” Miller said.  “If they’re not already doing so, we think these companies can make a real difference by ensuring that local retailers using the companies’ branding are not selling synthetic drugs.”

Enforcing stronger policies against the sale of synthetic drugs in retail locations can protect the brand reputations of these oil companies while also protecting our youth.   

The attorneys general request these oil companies to consider the following actions to address this growing problem:

  • Prohibit franchisees from selling any synthetic drugs;
  • Ensure this prohibition is understood by store franchisees and their employees by communicating directly with each of them;
  • Establish a point of contact in corporate offices for franchisees, should they have any questions about synthetic drugs;
  • Revoke franchisee/franchisor relationship with any gas station or convenience store that sells any kind of synthetic drugs; and
  • Report to local law enforcement authorities if any franchisee is selling synthetic drugs.

Last month a Polk County judge barred a Des Moines convenience store from selling synthetic drugs and ordered the defendants to pay a $50,000 penalty.  The consent judgment settled a consumer protection lawsuit over synthetic drug sales filed against the owners of a Des Moines Shop N Save convenience store.

“We hope these companies will step up and help us fight the synthetic drug scourge,” Miller said.

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