Lawrence is a focal point for the current debate in the Kansas Legislature about banning the active ingredient in an herbal substance known as K2. Follow the debate and the progress of the Kansas bills here.
Natalie McAnulla says she fell victim to “Big Brother-style government intervention” when authorities last week raided her downtown Lawrence store, prompting her to stop selling the controversial synthetic marijuana, K2.
She questions whether it would have happened had she just kept her mouth shut. Instead, McAnulla had spoken out to legislators against two state bills that would make the substance illegal.
“Only weeks after my testimony was given, my store was raided by the FDA, KBI and local law enforcement officials. Another business owner testified, and his warehouse was also raided,” said McAnulla, owner of Sacred Journey, 1103 Mass. “There must be a dozen other places in the area where these same products are sold … but because these store owners did not stand up to the law enforcement community, their stores were not investigated.”
Agents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which led the raid, have not explained why they took items form the store or from a warehouse in Oskaloosa, home to Bouncing Bear Botanicals, which supplied different items to the Lawrence store, including K2.
“The FDA cannot discuss an ongoing investigation,” Tom Gasparoli, FDA spokesman, said Friday.
FDA and Kansas Bureau of Investigation officials seized McAnulla’s entire supply of K2 — which produces a high-like effect if inhaled — in addition to many other plants and herbs. McAnulla said government agents also froze her bank accounts.
“I’m left to run a store on nothing,” she said.
McAnulla is trying to draw a crowd of 500 to a rally she’s hosting at 2 p.m. Saturday in South Park, just down the street from her store. She’s protesting how she’s been treated.
“If I can be placed at the edge of extinction by government officials just because I had the courage to speak out against oppressive legislation, then it can happen to anyone,” McAnulla said.
Officials arrested Bouncing Bear owner Jonathan Sloan, and he was charged with eight felony drug offenses, including the unlawful manufacturing and distribution of controlled substances. Sloan was released from Jefferson County Jail on $150,000 bond, pending an April 13 preliminary hearing.