For Immediate Release - February 10, 2015

AG Healey Urges Nine Oil Companies to Eliminate Synthetic Drugs From Retail Locations

BOSTON — Expressing concern for the dramatic increase in the use of synthetic drugs over the past four years, Attorney General Maura Healey today joined a coalition of states in asking nine oil companies to collaborate with their franchisees to help eliminate synthetic drugs from retail locations operating under their brand names, including gas station and convenience stores.

According to the letter pdf format of NAAG Synthetic Drug Letter
, joined by AG Healey along with 42 attorneys general, in 2011, more than 28,000 people, many of whom were younger than 17, went to the emergency room after using synthetic marijuana. Since then, thousands more have been harmed by synthetic drugs. Enforcement agencies have confirmed more than 130 instances of branded gas stations having sold synthetic drugs in 29 states.      

“As we continue to confront a growing addiction crisis across our country, it is crucial that these illegal synthetic drugs are not accessible in well-known retail locations, especially to our young people,” AG Healey said. “We urge these companies to remove these dangerous products from store shelves and ensure that they are no longer available in any branded gas station or convenience store.”

AG Healey expressed concern over the problem of gas stations and convenience stores operating under brand names of reputable oil companies and selling illegal and extremely dangerous synthetic drugs. Many of these well-known retail locations give the appearance of safety and legitimacy to dangerous synthetic products. The attorneys general state that enforcing stronger policies against the sale of synthetic drugs in retail locations can protect the brand reputations of these oil companies while also protecting our youth.   

According to the letter, manufacturers of synthetic drugs seek to evade state and federal law by creating chemical compounds not yet specifically regulated or prohibited in the United States. In so doing, they create synthetic versions of drugs that are just as dangerous, if not more so, than the drugs they seek to mimic. While synthetic drugs are illegal, the initial confusion surrounding the legality of synthetic drugs enabled dealers to convince retail locations, like “smoke shops,” gas stations and convenience stores, that it was lawful for the stores to sell products to consumers.

The letter is addressed to the following oil companies: British Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Phillips 66, Shell Oil Company, Sunoco, and Valero Energy Corporation.

The attorneys general request the following actions be considered by these oil companies to address this growing problem:

  • Prohibit franchisees from selling any synthetic drugs;
  • Ensure this prohibition is understood by store franchisees and their employees by communicating directly with each of them;
  • Establish a point of contact in corporate offices for franchisees, should they have any questions about synthetic drugs;
  • Revoke franchisee/franchisor relationship with any gas station or convenience store that sells any kind of synthetic drugs; and
  • Report to local law enforcement authorities if any franchisee is selling synthetic drugs.

Today’s letter pdf format of NAAG Synthetic Drug Letter
, co-sponsored by Illinois and Florida, was also joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.