Five Years in Prison for Cannabinoid Analogue Supplier
In 2014, the DoJ indicted the owners of an Olathe-based business that distributed $16 million in synthetic cannabinoids in two years. The indictment named several top-level co-defendants who either produced the drugs or bought the drugs in wholesale volume. One of those co-defendants, Michelle Reulet of Montgomery, Texas, recently received five years in prison for her role in the conspiracy.
The 2014 indictment against accused two defendants from Kansas, Tracy Picanso and Roy Ehrett, of running the massive synthetic cannabinoid and cathinone business. The Kansas partners, are both waiting on their sentencing, involved as key co-conspirators in Missouri, California, Texas, Georgia and Colorado.
Michelle Reulet operated a company in Texas called Bully Wholesale with her partner. (I used the word “partner” as they lived together, worked together, and once were an intimate couple. However, his social media profiles made no mention of a relationship with her and before her drunk driving arrest, neither did her posts. As far as this news article goes, they were mere business associates that lived together and were in an intimate relationship at one point).
Her partner, Michael Myers, received a two year sentence for one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and one count of mail fraud. He pleaded guilty to both charges. Nearly a month before Reulet’s sentencing, a federal judge sentenced Myers to a two year prison sentence with time served. Myers already spent two years in custody; thus, he received no prison time.
Reulet pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. For that, she received five years in prison and forfeited $2 million. However, while she seemed less involved than her co-defendant and partner, she admitted that she knew buyers bought the drugs to get high. Under the names “Pump It, Head trip, Black Arts, and Grave Digger,” Reulet and Myers sold various synthetic cannabinoid smoking blends. The blends were marked “not intended for human consumption” and sold as incense, potpourri, and even shoe deodorizer.
“The indictment alleges the defendants were aware of – and even discussed – the potential harmful effects of the illegal substances they manufactured and distributed, including extreme physical reactions, overdoses and deaths,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom.
The largest apparent reason for the massive discrepancy between her sentence and Myers’ sentence was that she admitted that she knew the customers got high off the drugs. Myers did not. However, once the two started moving enough weight to call for the end of online transactions, much of the factual evidence landed on Myers as he, according to court documents, drove to the suppliers and made $50,000 – $100,000 transactions.
Previous, similar synthetic cannabinoid cases revealed a potential trend: that the government was more concerned with the labeling than the trafficking itself. In one case, the DoJ wrote that the defendant labelled the substance “not for human consumption” when it clearly was this consumption. So they charged her with improperly labeling a research chemical—she should have labeled the RCs with human doses. Label or no label, she sold synthetic cannabinoids which carry an inherent illegal status under the Federal Analogue Act.
The law only applies to drugs that structurally resemble Schedule 1 or 2 drugs. Subjective “feelings” count too, but are much more difficult to prove in court. Cannabinoids are an easy target as they often blatantly resemble THC, structurally, and sell in smoke shops as a special smoke blend. Also, the buyers of clearnet cannabinoids often contacted the vendor with email addresses that alluded to marijuana use.
Picasso and Ehrett pleaded guilty to their respective roles and were given a June 15 sentencing date (originally much earlier in the year but moved for an unknown reason).