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United States v. Ramos

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
814 F.3d 910 (2016)


Facts

The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Mary Ann Ramos (defendant), the manager of a cellphone store, on several counts related to distribution of controlled substances, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 813 and 841(a)(1). The trial evidence established that Ramos sold store customers who asked for "potpourri," the street name for synthetic cannabinoid products, packets carrying the trade names "Blue," "Mr. Happy," and "Mr. Nice Guy." Ramos did not publicly advertise or openly display the packets in her store, charged $25 for a small ten-gram packet of Mr. Nice Guy, collected no sales tax on packet sales, and rang up no packet sales on her store register. Although Mr. Nice Guy's label described it "not for human consumption," the product's label also advertised its cotton-candy flavor. Ramos' potpourri customers were actually undercover drug enforcement agents who procured a warrant to search Ramos' store, house, and car. The search turned up hundreds of packets and drug-smoking paraphernalia, all concealed from public view. Mr. Nice Guy's label described the product as "cannabinoid free," but subsequent laboratory tests showed that it actually contained the synthetic cannabinoid XLR-11, a controlled substance. The jury convicted Ramos on all counts. On appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Ramos argued that the government failed to prove her knowledge that Mr. Nice Guy contained XLR-11.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gruender, J.)

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