Seller of synthetic marijuana sentenced to 7 years in prison

CHICAGO (AP) — The operator of a Chicago convenience store who sold illegal synthetic marijuana laced with rat poisoning was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison by a federal judge.

Fouad Masoud pleaded guilty in September to drug conspiracy for selling the illegal substance, sometimes called K2, from his West Side store. In sentencing Masoud, 49, U.S. District Judge Manish Shah said the emergence of ``greedy black-market profiteers” selling K2 likely contributed to a public health crisis that included deaths.

``You didn’t know there was rat poison in it, but you also didn’t care what you were selling,” Shah said.

During the hearing, a victim testified he started urinating blood soon after smoking the synthetic pot he bought at Masoud’s store and was hospitalized. He says two years later he is still recovering from the after-effects of using the substance.

Prosecutors requested a 10-year prison sentence for Masoud, noting that over a 2 ½-year period beginning in 2015, customers lined up outside the store waiting for Masoud to arrive with the illegal substance.

Defense attorney Glenn Seiden argued his client should get a 3-year prison term, saying there was no link between the hospitalizations of synthetic marijuana users and the substance sold at Masoud’s store.