Documentary chronicling Duluth's synthetic drug battle debuts


About 50 people gathered in Duluth for the premiere of a new documentary on the city's synthetic drug battle Monday night, including the head shop owner at the center of it all, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

The 25-minute film, called "Ground Zero: Duluth's Battle Against Synthetic Drugs," debuted at was shown at Clyde Iron Works as part of a forum organized by the Lake Superior Medical Society.

The film features police officers, who discuss how synthetic drugs have changed people addicted to them; as well as doctors, who talk about the increasing paranoia, hallucinations and serious side effects they are seeing with the use of synthetics.

Jim Carlson -- the Last Place on Earth shop owner at the center of the film -- attended the debut, a few days after offering a deal to federal prosecutors to end a federal case against him and three associates.

Carlson said last week that he will stop selling synthetic drugs if the charges are dropped.

The shop owner, his girlfriend, his son and a former employee were indicted on 54 federal charges of conspiracy to violate federal regulatory laws and conspiracy to distribute controlled analogue drugs in December.

All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile, Carlson continues to battle the city of Duluth, which is trying to get the Last Place on Earth declared a public nuisance in an effort to get the shop shut down.

The News Tribune says that Carlson is featured prominently in the director Jonathan Bothun's film, saying the "bottom line" is that he is fighting for the legalization of marijuana, and that he'd only sell synthetics until marijuana becomes legal.

Carlson also reportedly maintained that he's in "the perimeter of the law" selling the synthetics, and that he would be in jail if they were illegal.

According to the News Tribune, Carlson commented that "Ground Zero" was "well done" and he was happy to have his say recorded. Bothun also said at the screening that he aimed to tell the story of the synthetic drug problem from all points of the view to better inform the public.

The film also featured a drug-free woman named Felicia, who discussed her 14-year addiction to drugs, alcohol and eventually, synthetics -- which found her doing whatever she could to get money to buy more, including stealing from her grandparents.

See video below of a short piece Bothun shot on the synthetic drug battle, prior to filming his long-form documentary.

Synthetic Marijuana: Man on the Street Questions from jonathan bothun on Vimeo.

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