Jury begins deliberations in trial on synthetic drugs


Jury deliberations are underway in the trial of a Duluth headshop owner who stands accused of selling banned synthetic drugs.

Jim Carlson, the owner of the Last Place on Earth, his girlfriend and his son are all facing multiple counts of illegally selling banned synthetic drugs by "misbranding" them as incense, bath salts, watch cleaner and other names.

The Star Tribune reports, that the case went to the jury around 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Carlson, 56, faces 55 charges, while his girlfriend, Lava Haugen, 33, and son, Joseph Gellerman, 34, face four counts each. Both were employees of the store.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, defense attorney John Markham told jurors that the Last Place on Earth may have been a revolting place, but that didn't make the business illegal.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Surya Saxena argued though that because the defendants business was extremely profitable, they knowingly violated federal laws, or at least avoided knowledge of the laws.

The federal trial is in its third week.

Carlson has been an outspoken critic of the government's crackdown on synthetic drugs, saying the laws used to prosecute sellers have been "unconstitutionally vague."

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