The owners of the Dallas-based Gas Pipe smoke shop retail chain were sentenced to three years in federal prison on Tuesday for mislabeling a synthetic marijuana product called “spice.”
Authorities called the synthetic product a deadly poison.
Gerald "Jerry" Shults, 73, and his daughter Amy Herrig, 44, were found guilty in Oct. 2018 one felony count each of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. for misbranding their products.
The jury acquitted them during the trial of more serious drug-trafficking charges. The case exposed a major loophole in federal drug laws and put future federal prosecution of spice cases at risk.
As the Gas Pipe case showed, spice dealers can stay one step ahead of the DEA and avoid legal consequences as long as they continue to make small molecular changes to their products -- enough that they are not considered “substantially similar” to banned substances.
Shults and Herrig mislabeled their products as bath salts and potpourri despite knowing that people would smoke them to get high. The duo recently settled a parallel civil forfeiture case, agreeing to pay the government roughly $13 million.
Shults and Herrig had been facing up to life in prison prior to their trial.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area has several Gas Pipe stores that continue to operate.