Attorney General Fox Urges Nine Oil Companies to Eliminate Synthetic Drugs from Retail Locations
HELENA – Attorney General Fox today asked 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.
The use of synthetic drugs has increased dramatically nationwide over the past four years. In 2010, more than 11,000 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. In 2014, one health department reported a 220% increase in emergency room visits due to the ingestion of synthetic marijuana. Over this same period, enforcement agencies confirmed more than 130 instances of branded gas stations having sold synthetic drugs.
“In Montana, the manufacturing, distribution, sale, and possession of all designer drugs, including ‘bath salts’ and ‘spice,’ is already illegal,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Today’s letter serves as a reminder to gas station franchisees that they need to be ever-vigilant about what is sold in their stores, and to consumers, particularly young people, that using synthetic drugs is against the law as well as very dangerous.”
In a letter co-sponsored by the Illinois and Florida attorneys general, and joined by 42 other attorneys general, Attorney General Fox 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. 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.
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.
The letter addresses 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.
In the 2013 Legislative Session, Attorney General Fox brought forward HB 140, which was carried by Rep. Tom Berry. The bill received overwhelming bi-partisan support, and these dangerous synthetic drug compounds became illegal in Montana effective October 1, 2013.
The state and territorial attorneys general offices that signed today’s letter are: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, 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.