INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - An Independence mother is fighting back against a major gas company, suing Sinclair and Sinclair Oil Corp., claiming they sold synthetic drugs to her son, which eventually killed him.
Tammy Bryant’s son Kevin Wahlers was a recovering meth addict and according to Bryant’s attorney Rob Sullivan, he was using synthetic marijuana as a way to get clean and eventually get into a drug rehab program.
According to court documents, Wahlers purchased the synthetic marijuana also known as “potpourri” at the former Sinclair gas station on 40 Highway in Independence.
After using it, Wahlers’ girlfriend would eventually find him dead in his sleep and the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s office found the official cause of death to be synthetic marijuana.
"With this substance, it’s unregulated so there's not any standards for safety, there's not any required testing," Sullivan said.
Missouri and Kansas have both banned synthetic marijuana and law enforcement has cracked down on local gas stations selling the product.
We traveled to a handful of gas stations on both sides of the state line and no one said they carried the product. But police tell us they are still in circulation at local gas stations and manufacturers have created other synthetics under different names. These synthetics are toxic and deadly.
Missouri Highway patrol has seen a steady increase over the last few years of people using synthetic marijuana throughout the state, but specifically southern Missouri.
The Olathe and Overland Park police departments have reported a decrease in synthetic marijuana.
"We hope with lawsuits like this that we can stop it," Sullivan said. "If nothing else, large named companies, maybe they'll be shamed into not doing it anymore."
Many of the synthetic marijuana products are labeled not for human consumption.
Sullivan believes the product should have stronger guidelines like cigarettes which sometimes say this product will kill you.