Last Place on Earth owner's girlfriend faces marijuana charge
The girlfriend of the man known for selling synthetic marijuana in downtown Duluth has been charged with possessing the real thing. Lava Marie Haugen, girlfriend of beleaguered Duluth head shop owner Jim Carlson, appeared Wednesday in Douglas Cou...
The girlfriend of the man known for selling synthetic marijuana in downtown Duluth has been charged with possessing the real thing.
Lava Marie Haugen, girlfriend of beleaguered Duluth head shop owner Jim Carlson, appeared Wednesday in Douglas County Circuit Court on a charge of possession of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The marijuana was found April 4 in Haugen's closet while she attended a federal court appearance for Carlson in U.S. District Court in Duluth.
Haugen, 32, shares a home with Carlson in Superior.
The Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force and the Duluth and Superior police departments executed a search warrant at the couple's home on White Birch Trail that afternoon.
The felony Haugen is charged with is punishable by a maximum penalty of 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine and is charged as a second offense. She was convicted of possession of marijuana in St. Louis County in 2003.
Haugen suffers from multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. She and Carlson have been in a romantic relationship for about nine years, and she also worked for his downtown Duluth business, Last Place on Earth. Haugen declined comment after the hearing.
According to the criminal complaint, an officer was searching a walk-in closet in the master bedroom of Haugen's home that contained women's items when he found a metal can. Inside the can were a baggie and a green vegetable substance which later tested positive as marijuana. More marijuana was found in a circular silver metal container inside a jewelry box. Three Ziploc bags also containing marijuana were found on the woman's side of the closet. A second can was found wrapped up in women's jeans. That can also contained marijuana.
A burglar alarm was sounding as the search was being conducted and a call was placed to Haugen to come to the home and shut off the alarm system.
Duluth police Lt. Steve Stracek, commander of the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, asked Haugen if the marijuana was hers or Carlson's. Haugen said she didn't want to answer questions about marijuana without an attorney present. The questioning ended.
Defense attorney David Malban waived his client's preliminary hearing Wednesday. Douglas County Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy found that there was probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and bound Haugen over for further court proceedings. She is free on $500 bond.
Malban said after the hearing that he wanted to read the application for the search warrant to see if he has a legal challenge.
"When they did one of the searches of the store (Last Place on Earth) somebody with one of the federal agencies authorized to comment on the raid said, 'We need to go in there with a warrant to see if there is anything illegal.' What? What?!" Malban said. "That sounds perfectly reasonable to everyone unless you realize that you need probable cause to get a warrant."
Carlson, his son Joseph Gellerman, Haugen and former store employee Jamie Paul Anderson are named in a 54-count federal indictment alleging that they violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act.
In addition to charging the store employees with distribution of controlled substances and analogues, or close copies of controlled substances, the government is using consumer laws on product labeling to prosecute the case.
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that the defendants intended to mislead government authorities with false labels that, besides suggesting that the products weren't drugs, failed to describe package content accurately and failed to include health warnings about their use.
The city of Duluth has filed two notices declaring Carlson's shop at 124 E. Superior St. a public nuisance.