K2, Bath Salts Wholesaler Sues Missouri Over Laws Making Drugs Illegal

Jun 3, 2011 at 9:31 am
Rodger Seratt stands strong in his opposition to laws against synthetic cannabis and cocaine.
Rodger Seratt stands strong in his opposition to laws against synthetic cannabis and cocaine.
Rodger Seratt is a strapping 61-year-old entrepreneur from southern Missouri who, for the past three years, has earned a "decent living" supplying retailers near his hometown of Naylor with products marketed as incense and bath salts but commonly used to achieve highs similar to those of marijuana and cocaine.

Last year Missouri passed a law that was supposed to drive Seratt out of business by banning the sale of these synthetic drugs. Drug makers, however, just tweaked the chemical makeup of their products to get around the legislation. Now, a new bill passed last month (and awaiting signature on the governor's desk) would end the cat-and-mouse game.

House Bill 641 bans any derivative of a controlled substance and makes it illegal to sell synthetic drugs (sold under names such as K2, Spice and Ivory Wave) that are labeled "not for human consumption" when everyone know that the products are intended just for that.

In Seratt's mind, the proposed new law goes to far. In a lawsuit he filed this week in federal court, Seratt argues that Missouri must also outlaw gasoline, cooking spray and glue if it plans to go ahead and ban his products.

"Those are all things that you can misuse to get high," he says. Seratt's lawsuit further argues that Missouri's new legislation would deprive him of his job and trample his civil rights by prohibiting him from selling a product that's still legal elsewhere in the United States.

Daily RFT caught up with Seratt yesterday just after he delivered a copy of his lawsuit to the office of Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Daily RFT: You're representing yourself in this suit. What finally pushed you to mount a legal challenge?

Seratt: Nobody else was stepping up. So I stepped up hard, and I'm here to stay. I don't have the funds to hire a lawyer to fight the state. I'm 61 years old, and I've made my living selling this stuff the last few years. I'm not looking for something else to do come August 28 when this law would go into effect. To me, it seems like they're singling me out, and I intend to fight them.

Wouldn't you agree, though, that these drugs have been found to have adverse effects on those who use them, especially with bath salts. We've read accounts of people dying from that drug.

Those people are abusing the products. They're not intended for human consumption. As I say in the lawsuit, if they're going to ban my products then they also need to ban gasoline, Pam, spray paint and glue. A lot more people abuse those things than what I'm selling. The abuse of bath salts, though, that does bother me a bit.

Yet you continue to sell them through your distributorship, Siera Citra. Why?

Because they're legal and there is a hell of a lot of money to be made doing this.

How much money?

I sell my products to stores for about $7.50 a unit. They turn around and sell it for $15. So right there, the retailer is doubling their money. I service about a dozen stores in southern Missouri and Illinois. They're mostly mom-and-pop operations -- liquor stores, corner stores. An average business will sell about $1,000 a week. A brisk business will do $6,000 to $8,000 dollars a week. As a wholesaler, I don't double my money the way the retailer does. But it's definitely profitable.

Who are your suppliers?

You can get it anywhere. Just punch it up online. You can get stuff from the U.S. and China.

Do you use and/or abuse these products yourself?

No. I don't do drugs. I may have a couple beers on Friday night but that's about it.

You seem like somewhat of an unlikely person to be caught up in the middle of this. How did you enter the business?

There's not much industry down here except maybe to work in the sawmills. I'm partially disabled, so I can't do that kind of work. And I can't sit around and die -- either. You could say that I believe in the American Way.

And the American Way is to sell harmful drugs to the people?

No. If this new law passes, I'll get out of the business the day before it goes into effect. But that's not going to stop people from getting these products. It's like Prohibition in the '30s or illegal drugs today. People who want these products are still going to find them. My argument is, let's be reasonable. Make them available to people over 21 or legal age. Then tax and regulate them. There's a lot of money the state could be making off this.
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P.S. Seratt also filed federal complaint this week in federal court in Missouri against the city of Marion, Illinois, for its local ordinance banning synthetic marijuana. That lawsuit has already been dismissed by the court.

Continue on to view a copy of Seratt's lawsuit against Missouri.