Former owner of The Last Place on Earth gets 17.5 years in prison

By KBJR News 1

August 14, 2014 Updated Aug 15, 2014 at 9:01 AM CDT

Minneapolis, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Jim Carlson, the former owner of the controversial headshop, "The Last Place on Earth" (LPOE) has been sentenced with 17.5 years in prison.

He has also been smacked with a $25,000 fine for selling synthetic drugs at his Duluth head shop.

The sentencing hearing began at 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 14 in federal court.

During sentencing Thursday, Carlson reiterated that he felt he has been the sole target of the federal government and police raids while the synthetic drug industry is thriving online.

Carlson also told the judge that he has ended his relationship with co-defendant Lava Haugen and pleaded that they dismiss her pending sentence.

However, Haugen was sentenced with five years in prison, drug treatment and three years of supervised release.

Last October a federal jury found Carlson guilty of 51 crimes involving the sale of synthetic drugs at his shop on Superior Street.

In an opinion released July 28, 2014, a three judge panel sided with the Duluth District Court in finding the Last Place on Earth was a public nuisance.

Today, two expert witnesses with the Drug Enforcement Agency testified on behalf of the prosecution.

Dr. Nicholas Cozzi, with the University of Wisconsin in Madison, testified on behalf of the defense. His testimony challenged the scientific basis of guidelines set for sentencing.

Currently there are no specific sentencing guidelines set for synthetic drugs, so the court must find similar guidelines that fit the description of synthetic drugs.

A doctor from St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth testified about emergency room visits relating to synthetic drug use, and Duluth police testified regarding synthetic-related calls.

There were 1,292 calls related to synthetic drugs between January 2011 and June 2014. These calls dropped by 50% after the LPOE closure.