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Duluth head shop owner gets 17½ years for synthetic drug sales

Forum News Service

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jim Carlson, owner of downtown Duluth’s Last Place on Earth head shop, was sentenced Thursday to more than 17 years in prison for the sale of synthetic drugs.

U.S. District Judge David Doty imposed the 210-month sentence — 17½ years — during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Minneapolis. Carlson was convicted by a jury in October on 51 counts related to the sale of synthetic drugs, product mislabeling and money laundering.

Several expert witnesses were called to testify at the hearing about federal sentencing guidelines for synthetic drug crimes. Synthetics first emerged in the U.S. just a few years ago, experts say, and there is little case law to refer to for sentencing procedures.

Government attorneys argued in pretrial pleadings that Carlson should be sentenced to 20 or more years in prison. The defense sought probation, or no more than three years.

Carlson sold synthetic drugs out of his shop from late 2010 until the store was shut down by a judge’s order in July 2013.