Last Place on Earth Owner Claims New City Ordinance "Unconstitutional"

By KBJR News 1

July 10, 2013 Updated Jul 10, 2013 at 5:16 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - According to the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against his or herself.

That, according to Jim Carlson, is exactly what one of the two ordinances, set to take effect Thursday, would require him to do.

"By buying the license I'm agreeing I'm doing illegal things. Why would a person buy a license to do something that the city is saying is illegal," asked Carlson, standing outside his head shop Wednesday.

Carlson, who says he's been selling a legal product for the past four years, and has had his shop raided by city, state, and federal agencies over the sales of synthetics, says the ordinances only exacerbate the city's harassment of his business—especially since he has yet to be charged with a crime.

"The city hasn't done one thing in two years, and the feds came and raided me when there was over 400 people selling in the state, and the ones still selling haven't been bothered," added Carlson.

But Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson takes it further, saying many businesses in Duluth require a license to do operations, and if the products Carlson is selling are really legal, he should have no problem with the concept of obtaining a license.

"If you go to your barber, your barber has a license. If you go to a liquor store, the liquor store has a license," said Johnson, "what he seems to be doing is acknowledging that he's engaged in an illegal operation."

On Thursday, Johnson says Carlson has three options: to stop selling synthetic drugs, obtain a license to continue operations, or take the route he's currently taking with the injunction, which won't be heard in Federal Court until Friday.

"He will not be in compliance with the law tomorrow if he is selling without a license," added Johnson.

If he's not in compliance authorities say he'll be arrested.

Ordinances aside, two cases will also be heard in the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Thursday.

One is a lawsuit brought by Carlson against the city stemming from a 2011 raid of his head shop. The other is Carlson's challenge to the city's public nuisance action.

City Attorney Gunnar Johnson also says the city has just filed papers on a second nuisance action against Carlson's head shop.

Among what's in the nuisance action: claims that within the past 12 months alone, Carlson has sold products that have clearly been banned.

- Posted to the web by Billy Wagness