In controversial verdict, Jim Carlson, Last Place on Earth owner, convicted of felony drug charges

Categories: Drugs, Duluth
jim carlson mug.jpg
Carlson's store is closed, and he'll remain behind bars pending his sentencing.
Jim Carlson days of selling synthetic drugs in Duluth appear to be over for good. Yesterday, he was convicted of 51 felony counts in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

THE BACKSTORY: Last Place owner Jim Carlson arrested again, one day after posting bail

But Carlson's precedent-setting conviction is controversial, and his attorney says he'll appeal. Carlson was found guilty not of selling illegal substances per se, but of violating a federal law prohibiting the sale of "analogue" substances designed to mimic illegal ones.

Carlson, 56, estimated his Last Place on Earth store, which was shuttered in July, made $6 million selling synthetic marijuana and stimulants in 2011 alone.

The Duluth News Tribune details what sort of sentence Carlson might be facing when a judge announces it in a few weeks:
The defendants [which included Carlson, his girlfriend, Lava Haugen, and his son, Joseph Gellerman] face a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States; three years for violating the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act; and 20 years for each count of violating the Controlled Substances Act. In addition, Carlson faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from a specified unlawful activity.
After the jury announced its verdict, Duluth Mayor Don Ness said he feels a sense of relief his city will no longer have to deal with Carlson and the problems his store presented for the downtown area. But it's unclear whether Carlson's conviction will stick.

Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Hamline Law School in St. Paul, told the Star Tribune the federal "analogue" law is vague and could lead to a successful appeal.

"I think the defense may have a good argument," he said.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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14 comments
allyourbasearebelong
allyourbasearebelong

They say synthetic drugs contributed to 30 deaths/year in the US in 2011.  You know what other substance does?  Monster Energy Drink.

_Joe_
_Joe_

Just means more money for street dealers.

TC4L
TC4L

Finally.  Duluth is drug free.

Maija Peura
Maija Peura

yippee!!!!! I suppose that the problems in the world will always find a new outlet, but glad for the charges and the stand against the synthetic drugs!

Mark Stalpes
Mark Stalpes

Loser!! Wow he looks real healthy!! Lmao....get that Bum out of that beautiful city!!! See ya!

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

Something seems seriously wrong with this guy.  He has had a bazillion chances to just walk away, and he wouldn't do it. Of course, if it weren't for the absurd evil of our "Drug War", the business niche would never have existed for him.  He probably does have a strong legal argument.  Our drug laws are absurd enough, laws covering imitation drugs are even weirder.  Particularly when alcohol and tobacco remain perfectly lawful. But after all the crap that has become known about these fake drugs, all the incidents, and all the warnings this one guy has had, why would he continue to do this?

Maggie Strugala
Maggie Strugala

I guess I will have to be in the minority with my opinion of the verdict, and say that I disagree. It's been a non-stop witch hunt against him In Duluth for quite some time now. The "problem" is just going to find a new outlet now.

ajlalk3
ajlalk3 topcommenter

Good. This guy made millions by selling addicts poison, all while poisoning his own community in the process. Not hard enough to make it in the REAL drug game, so he had to sell the fake shit. Bodie and Stringer 4 Lyfe!

Edward Bertsch
Edward Bertsch

Dude has been using WAY too much of his own product.

Sarah Beal
Sarah Beal

Too bad. This place is iconic. First 'tape' I ever bought as a child was there; Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Angela Salzl
Angela Salzl

I don't get the whole synthetic drug thing.... like would you want to take them?

DanMitchell
DanMitchell

@Maggie Strugala Is it really so hard to conclude that the government has overstepped while also allowing for the possibility that the guy is a scumbag? It seems to me that the facts leave little else to conclude.

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@ajlalk3 I guess it's OK to sell poison to addicts if you're a state licensed liquor store. Talk about selling poison to addicts!

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