Posted at: 02/27/2013 11:54 AM
Updated at: 02/27/2013 10:47 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
Duluth's newest DFL'er told a House committee Wednesday morning that he intends to introduce legislation to further combat the sale of synthetic drugs in Minnesota.
Rep. Erik Simonson said the bill, or bills, will be introduced either in this session or the next.
Testifying at that hearing were Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay, Kristi Stokes with the Greater Downtown Council, and medical professionals. Stokes told members of the House Committee on Public Safety, Finance and Policy, that the downtown business district has seen hundreds of millions of dollars in investment in the last eight years, but says one business is "impacting our rate of success" and tarnishing the overall image of the downtown area.
Stokes was speaking about the Last Place on Earth, however, the name of the business was not mentioned until later in the meeting. It is a business that has long been the target of heavy criticism because of its sale of "incense," which is also known as synthetic marijuana.
"The sale of synthetic drugs from a storefront on Superior Street has meant really that neighboring businesses have suffered financially, the perception of safety downtown has been negatively impacted, and the environment has been less than appealing," Stokes said.
Laws banning certain ingredients in synthetic drugs have been passed in the Minnesota Legislature in recent years, but their sale at the Last Place, as well as other head shops across the state, has continued.
Jim Carlson, the owner of Last Place, has told Eyewitness News that the products he sells do not contain any banned ingredients.
City, state and federal authorities have been involved in the effort to halt what they call synthetic drugs at the Last Place, through raids, lawsuits, and by filing criminal charges against employees.