Lawrence man charged after Sacred Journey investigation

Jonathan Sloan charged with multiple counts of manufacturing, distributing controlled substances

Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Johnson County Sheriff's Office and Lawrence Police Department, conducted a search and seizure in February 2010 inside Lawrence's Sacred Journey — a store at the center of the K2 controversy in Kansas.

The charges against Sloan

• Unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances: Dimethlyltryptamine (DMT)

• Unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances: Mescaline

• Unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances: Lysergic Acid Amide

• Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Mescaline

• Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Dimethlyltryptamine; Chacruna; Illinois Bundleflower; Epena; Cebil Seeds.

• Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Bufotenine, Epena, Chaliponga, Cebil Seeds, Colorado River Toads.

• Unlawful cultivation or distribution of controlled substances: Lysergic Acid Amide, Morning Glory Seeds, Rivea Corymbosa.

• Unlawful possession of certain drug precursors and drug paraphernalia: Plastic jugs and filters used or intended for unlawful use to manufacture, cultivate, plant propagate, harvest, test, analyze or distribute a controlled substance.

It’s not yet illegal, but federal officials and local law enforcement have pulled the popular, marijuana-like substance known as K2 off the shelves at the Lawrence store Sacred Journey, 1103 Mass.

The Food and Drug Administration, along with area police, raided the store and a major distributor of the herbal mixture Thursday, leading to drug charges against a Lawrence man in Jefferson County.

Jonathan Sloan, 29, owner of Bouncing Bears Botanicals, was charged in Jefferson County District Court on Friday with eight felony drug offenses, including the unlawful manufacturing and distribution of controlled substances.

Jefferson County Attorney Caleb Stegall said Sloan was arrested after an investigation of a warehouse facility he owns in Oskaloosa, north of Lawrence. Bouncing Bears Botanicals, 14501 S. U.S. Highway 59, had supplied Sacred Journey with K2, along with other herbal products. Federal, state and local authorities seized more than $700,000 in cash from Sloan’s business and bank accounts. Numerous items, including thousands of cactus plants and 20 toads, were removed from the warehouse, according to warehouse employees and Sloan’s attorney.

The charges come one day after law enforcement seized Sacred Journey’s entire K2 supply, other “ethnobotanicals” and certain cactus plants. Authorities on scene said the FDA was in charge of the investigation, but an FDA spokesman said the agency does not publicly comment on active investigations.

The raid and seizure at the store came as a “shock” to Melissa Hart, who resigned as Sacred Journey store manager on Friday.

She said the store was very careful in ensuring that the products it sold complied with state and federal laws.

“We had no knowledge of anything that was illegal,” she said.

The store reopened Friday.

The FDA has yet to release further details about the investigation.

Sloan’s attorney, Scott Gyllenborg, said his client was operating a legitimate botanical plant business, which he said was “one of the country’s, if not the world’s, biggest distributors of these botanicals.”

“These are remedies. These are items used in religious ceremonies that are legal, that can be put to illegal purposes,” Gyllenborg said.

Sloan is scheduled to return April 13 to Jefferson County District Court for a preliminary hearing. Prosecutors said more charges could be filed against him. Bond was set at $150,000.

Johnson County officials raised public awareness about K2 in November, warning that the substance is a synthetic version of marijuana, though it’s marketed as an incense.

Kansas House legislators this week passed a bill that would make illegal the sale or possession of the substances found in K2, but that legislation has yet to become law. Gov. Mark Parkinson has spoken in favor of the bill, which is expected to hit his desk this session.

Sacred Journey has been at the center of the debate about K2, as store employees and customers have begun speaking out against a ban on the substance.