MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Civil actions have been filed against two Morgantown businesses that are alleged to have made millions of dollars by selling large quantities of synthetic marijuana.
U.S Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said at a Wednesday news conference that federal authorities along with the Mon Valley Drug Task Force served search warrants at Mid-Nite Adult and the X-Hale Hookah Lounge Tuesday afternoon. The complaints allege X-Hale made more than $1 million in sales of the illegal drug while Mid-Nite Adult pulled in $3.2 million during a 20-month period. Officials said the X-Hale owners, Nicholas and Steven Graziano, used the money to purchase cars, including a $95,000 BMW.
Mid-Nite Adult is owned and operated by Daniel and Sally Kocan, who also own Dahila’s on Walnut Street in Morgantown. Dahila’s was also included in the search on Tuesday but no action has been taken against that business.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Ihlenfeld said the civil actions also seek to seize certain assets from the entities, including the business licenses of each as well as all inventory containing a controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue.
“This substance is unpredictably dangerous,” Ihlenfeld said during an appearance on MetroNews Talkline. “There are people dying across the country from using synthetic marijuana.”
Ihlenfeld said it’s is different from traditional marijuana.
“I don’t encourage anyone to smoke either, but synthetic marijuana is much, much different and creates a lot of significant health risks for anyone that consumes it.”
The Morgantown Police Department and Mon Valley Drug Task Force have been working on the case for about 18 months. The stores are close to the police department in downtown Morgantown.
“The business community in Morgantown made their voices heard and law enforcement listened. The businesses are fed up with what’s been going on,” Ihlenfeld said.
The main buyers of synthetic marijuana are those in their late teens and early 20s.
“We want parents to know that if their children are involved in this stuff they ought to know it because it could be deadly,” Ihlenfeld said. “If I were the parent of a student at West Virginia University I would be very happy about the action we took.”
Ihlenfeld said Congress has taken steps in the last few years to expand the list of scheduled substances and there’s a new law in West Virginia that will go in effect in about a month dealing with synthetic marijuana.