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Tennessee AG Sues "Plant Food" Maker, Seizes Product

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee attorney general has filed lawsuits against two Nashville men for making and selling a product called plant food but that is reportedly used as a recreational drug.

    Attorney General Bob Cooper announced a statewide seizure of the product called Molly's Plant Food on Friday. Nashville police served seizure and restraining orders against Eric Ronnell Alexander and Joshua Covell at their homes and at a shop called Toke-N-Roll.

    No criminal charges have been filed, but the state has cited civil law violations because the product has not been properly registered and labeled.

    Cooper said in a news release that the product is referred to on he Internet as "legal ecstasy" and contains mephedrone, a substance known to produce effects similar to ecstasy and cocaine ten ingested.

    Mar 11, 2011 2:06 PM



  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Tennessee AG Sues "Plant Food" Maker

    And the press release from the Attorney Generals Office


    Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper and Agriculture Commissioner Julius Johnson today announced the statewide seizure of Molly’s Plant Food, a substance alleged to have been touted on the Internet for its mind-altering qualities when taken orally. The product has been known to cause severe physical and psychological side effects and is quickly spreading throughout the country as a popular but dangerous recreational drug. In addition, the Attorney General’s Office has filed suit, asking for a temporary restraining order to stop the defendants from selling the product.

    “We have all heard the news reports of a wide variety of products that are marketed for supposedly harmless purposes but cause real damage to the mind and bodies of some young people looking for that non-existent ‘harmless high,’” Attorney General Cooper said. “We are glad that current law gives us a way to get this product off the shelves while the Legislature considers stiffer penalties.”

    Although the company’s website has a disclaimer which states it is “not intended for human consumption,” other internet chat rooms and websites refer to “Molly’s Plant Food as “legal ecstasy.” The product contains mephedrone, a substance known to produce a feeling similar to that of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (also known as “ecstasy”) and cocaine when consumed orally.

    Named in the lawsuit are defendants Eric Ronnell Alexander and Joshua Covell, who operate businesses under the names “Faded Botanicals” and “Molly’s Plant Food,” which manufacture, market, sell and distribute a product known as “Molly’s Plant Food” (MPF). Upon receiving the judge’s signed order, investigators from the Attorney General’s office are coordinating with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies statewide to seize the product from store shelves. Tennessee Department of Agriculture inspectors are assisting in this effort.

    Nashville-area law enforcement officers served seizure and restraining orders on the defendants at their homes and the Nashville-based business Toke-N-Roll, which is located at 4824 Old Hickory Blvd. in Hermitage. Officers were in the process of seizing the product from various convenience stores and other commercial businesses throughout the state on Friday.

    No criminal charges have been filed in this case. However, the Attorney General’s Office and Department of Agriculture have cited civil law violations because the product has not been properly registered and labeled in accordance with state law, according to the complaint. Under state law, nitrogen (a chemical component in the formula for mephedrone) is also recognized as a “plant nutrient” under state law and falls under the department’s registration and labeling laws.

    “We’re working closely with the Attorney General’s office and have inspectors out in the field looking for this product,” said Commissioner Johnson. “Our product registration and labeling laws are important for not only protecting consumers and farmers, but in this case helping to ensure proper product usage.”

    “We are pleased with the diligence of Attorney General Cooper and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to come to the aid of law enforcement and the citizens of the state of Tennessee,” said Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police President David Beams. “It is difficult for many of us to imagine that one would ingest fertilizer as a means to get “high” but the unfortunate reality is that it is around us everywhere. All law enforcement entities will work together in a deliberate fashion to remove this hazardous material from store shelves across the state.”

    Mephedrone is not listed as a controlled substance and can be legally sold in the State of Tennessee. The Federal Analog Act, a section of the United States Controlled Substances Act, allows any chemical “substantially similar” to a Schedule I or II drug to be treated as if it were the actual controlled substance. The Act, however, only pertains to drugs which are “intended for human consumption.”

    “This so called plant food is nothing short of a very dangerous drug,” said Dr. Sullivan Smith, Emergency Services Medical Director for Cookeville Regional Medical Center, who has testified before the Tennessee Legislature about the growing problem. “Calling it a plant food is just a way around the law which would place this drug into the same classification as heroin and LSD. We first started seeing patients in the emergency department in January. Since then we now see these patients just about every day. Some of these patients are suffering from life threatening blood pressures, heart rates, and neurological effects. It is time for this drug to go away.”

    The defendants are manufacturing, marketing, selling and otherwise distributing the product as a “plant food,” which they label as “Not for Human Consumption.” Neither the product itself, nor the defendants’ websites, contains any information regarding the ingredients, net weight, chemical analysis, or name and address of the distributor. The defendants also have admitted they have never tested the product on plants to ensure that it achieves its intended purpose.

    During the investigation, investigators from the Attorney General’s Office and Agriculture Department made several purchases of Molly’s Plant Food from local retailers. A laboratory analysis by the Department of Agriculture confirmed that a product sample purchased from the defendant’s business, Toke-N-Roll contained 3.75 percent nitrogen, making it a fertilizer and thus subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture.
  2. Alfa
    Wow! This could become a very interesting court case. Law Enforcement is now actively countering the 'not for human consumption' approach and dragging legal high vendors into court.

    This will cause an extremely uncomfortable situation for legal high vendors, as they must convincthe judge that they are really selling these legal highs for plant food purposes. No judge is going to believe that one.
  3. godztear
    True. However in civil law its a money talks situation, without the risk of jail time. How much money can be determined in or out of court, just how much are they looking to take from the vendors is the question.
  4. Alfa
    Doesn't this open a whole can of worms in terms of liability? Could this court case not become the basis for other cases, claims and criminal prosecution?
  5. godztear
    To be determined I suppose. As long as it is in Civil Court, it is only money that is negotiated. If they lose the civil suit then they should be expecting criminal cases as well. (hate to say it but look at OJ, whom won in judicial court and was found innocent, only to be tried in civil court and found guilty and had to pay hefty fines)
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