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The Laughing Buddha

August 22, 2012 - 2:31am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, synthetic drugs, The Laughing Buddha, bath salts.

Jason Lang, the local businessman who caught got up in using bath salts and still faces some criminal charges that appear to stem from his use of the chemical substances, is doing much better, according to family members.

Lang appeared in Town of Batavia Court on Tuesday, which is a big step forward from July 17, when he didn't make it for a scheduled appearance, but did meet with reporters in the court parking lot minutes after his attorney left the facility.

Observers at the courthouse said Lang looks much healthier and his mother and sister say his mental outlook and demeanor have improved.

Today's court appearance was to answer to charges stemming from an alleged phone call he made to the owner of 400 Ellicott Street attempting to convince the landlord not to rent to The 420 Emporium. Lang allegedly posed as a State Police investigator and said the 420 sold synthetic marijuana.

The case was continued until 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 18.

In the weeks following his alleged impersonation, Lang's name or his home address came up several times in calls on the police scanner for incidents that give the appearance of being related to bath salt use, including a report of Lang saying he heard gun shots at a local hotel. For that call, Lang was eventually charged with filing a false report and harassment, 2nd.

Since the last week of July, there have been no reported bath salt related calls connected with Lang's name.

Lang's mother, Nicole, said today that since the 420 closed, her son has not been using bath salts.

"He’s doing pretty good," Nicole Lang said. "He’s doing a lot better than he was doing. Now that the emporium is shut, I think it’s made a big difference."

Brandi Smith, Lang's sister, agreed.

She said in recent weeks, she's been able to talk with her brother on a daily basis, something they used to do but stopped doing for the time Lang appeared to be using bath salts.

Jason Lang has been going to daily sessions at GCASA, she said.

"The other day I drove past GCASA and I saw his car parked out front and it just brought a huge smile to my face to know that he’s going every day and he’s getting help," Smith said.

"Bath salts" is a generic media term for a class of substances that are sold under a broad range of product names and claims but when consumed cause stimulation, euphoria, hallucinations along with paranoia, agitation and fear.

The substances, meant to mimic drugs that were already outlawed, can also be highly addictive.

At one time, Jason Lang owned the Batavia Cab Company and the Laughing Buddha.

Lang has previously admitted to selling both bath salts and synthetic marijuana at the buddha.

Both companies went out of business about the time it became public knowledge that Lang was getting into trouble with the law.

During the seeming height of Jason Lang's contact with local law enforcement, Nicole Lang went to The 420 Emporium at 400 Ellicott St., Batavia, and demanded employees stop selling bath salts to her son.

She was convinced if it continued, her son wouldn't survive.

On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped the trespass charge against Nichole Lang stemming from that confrontation at the 420.

A couple of weeks after the confrontation, the 420 was raided by the DEA and its doors have been closed since.

The raid and the increased awareness about the dangers of bath salts, Smith said, have been a good thing for the Batavia community.

"It has really helped our community," Smith said. "Like I said, it’s harder for these people to find it and it pushes them to get clean quicker. Overall, I think our community is doing much better."

In general, Smith said, her brother's outlook has improved, he's much less paranoid -- though some paranoia lingers -- and he has a better grasp on reality.

She said it's good to have her bother back.

With the Lang family getting so much media attention in July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office invited Smith to be part of his press conference in Buffalo earlier this month to announce new penalties in New York for the possession and sale of "bath salts."

Smith said it was a real honor to be included and get a chance to share with people about what the now-banned substances have done to her family.

"Unfortunately, we’ve had to live through it, but it has been a learning experience," Smith said. "I’m thankful for each person that I can maybe give some advice to and help them because we have been through this. Unfortunately, we had to live through it but I think by going through it, it makes us stronger and we’re able to help more people."

April 4, 2012 - 10:49pm

A day after The Laughing Buddha announced that it was willing to cooperate with officials, owner Jay Lang was served a notice from New York State Health Department, banning him from selling potpourri over the counter. 

Lang said Tuesday he had voluntarily removed his products from the shelf days earlier, but now he's not permitted to restock them, according to the notice. 

"The health department stopped in this morning and told us we couldn't sell our products anymore," Lang said. "They were very polite and we cooperated fully. We gave them samples of our products that they will be testing for the banned cannabinoids.

"I also spoke to Det. Crossett (Batavia PD) this morning and he informed me that this is a civil matter and not a criminal matter," Lang added.

If he were to restock, the state could fine him up to $1,000. 

Local health department officials confirmed that Lang gave them samples and that tests would be done, but could not tell us exactly what was being done or being tested for, since it was being handled at the state level and not county level.

Products that are being tested include the potpourri that sells under the name White Rhino, Hammer Head and Yum Yum. 

"If the tests come back in my favor, I can restock the shelves," Lang said. "If they come back against me, they will let me know what compounds need to be changed to make the products legal." 

Lang has fifteen days to present proof that his products do not constitute a danger to the health of the people of the State of New York.

Since The Batavian first started following the story, numerous news stations have also picked up on this local story. 

Previous coverage: 

Photo by Howard Owens

April 3, 2012 - 3:43pm

Last week the New York State Health Commissioner issued an order prohibiting products that fall under the umbrella heading of “synthetic cannabinoids” from being sold in the state. These are items sold as “incense” and not for human consumption yet are often smoked as a substitute for marijuana.

Jay Lang, owner of The Laughing Buddha in Batavia, and his attorney say they believe the ban violates two forms of retailers' constitutional rights, one of which falls under the category of interstate trading. 

"After the ban, health department officials stopped by 'The Buddha' but we had already pulled our products that were questionable," Lang said. "I called my attorney and the legal team of the distributors, we all believe that the ban violates the individual rights and the rights of the distributors."

Lang, who recently moved his shop to 238 Ellicott St., claims he did not sell any of the banned items but voluntarily pulled any questionable items from his shelf last Thursday after hearing of the new mandate.

"I don't sell 'Spice' or bath salts," Lang said. "I never have. I sell potpourri. It's the same thing as if you go to your arts and crafts stores or your Big Box retailers. It's just that tattoo and head shops have been put under a microscope."

The items on the state's banned list include K2, Spice, Galaxy Gold, and Mr. Happy.

According to Lang, "Spice" was the trade name given to K2, that was banned more than a year ago. Since then, the distributors have made changes to their products in an attempt to legalize them again, he said.

Although some of the products have regained legal status, they still carry the label "Spice." He said that "Spice" is currently being used as the slang name given to the damiana leaf after it's been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. It only gets the "Spice" classification once it is sprayed.

"None of the products that I sell have been sprayed with any form of cannabinoids, which is why these products are still legal to be sold," Lang said.
"My attorney and the distributor's legal team have advised me to put my products back on the shelf, although for the time being, I am keeping them off (the shelf)."

Lang, who said he has NYS certified lab reports that classify his products as potpourri, has also put together a package to work with the health department and law enforcement regarding the products in question.

"I'm inviting the health department and law enforcement to inspect my questionable products," he said. "I have sample kits that I put together for them and I will even pay to have my products tested to prove that they do not contain any of the banned cannabinoids and that all they are is potpourri."

If law enforcement and the health department do not express interest in the testing and validating his products as legal potpourri, Lang plans to restock his shelves with the products.

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