Apparently, Jackson County is taking this whole fake weed ban thing pretty seriously. Coffee Wonk owner Micah Riggs has been charged with three felonies, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a chemical with intent to create a controlled substance.
The charges come six months after the Wonk's products were seized by police -- not in a raid, mind you, but because the business was robbed and Riggs called the cops.
We profiled Riggs and the Coffee Wonk in December ("Buzz Factory") because, unlike some of the people profiting from fake reefer madness, Riggs was using his new bankroll to reinvest in midtown. Since the Coffee Wonk took off as a premiere retailer of synthetic pot, Riggs has invested in a restaurant and a recording studio and has more plans to revitalize the block.
In interviews for that story done shortly after the police confiscated his products, Riggs told us how his staff was robbed at gunpoint one morning, and when the police arrived, they seemed more interested in the stock than the robbery. The incident wasn't long after the statewide ban on K2 synthetic marijuana, but Riggs claimed that the incense he was then selling was made from a different compound that had not yet been criminalized. Similar compounds were also being sold at various KC gas stations, head shops and incense shops. Riggs also claimed that he voluntarily signed off on the search that led to the confiscation.
"[The officer] told me I ought to sign off on a search, just as a sign of good
faith that would help things along," Riggs told The Pitch at the time. "I thought it was the right thing,
and I want to get along with the police. I guess I was stupid."
Police say lab tests of the seized products revealed synthetic cannabinoids that were criminalized under the state ban. Though police finished the tests in October, Riggs wasn't charged until last week. Also charged with possession of a chemical with intent to manufacture a controlled substance was Philrey Pamatmat, a recent University of Missouri-Kansas City graduate with a degree in chemistry, whom Riggs hired to help study the compounds and potentially create their own brand.
Riggs isn't the first area man to look into creating his own brand of synthetic pot.
Coincidentally, the product Riggs began carrying after the K2 ban, and included in the inventory seized, is called Syn and it was created right here in KC. Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that former KC trash man and Syn inventor Derek Williams had sold $1.5 million of the product in at least 10 states, making him the Scarface of fake weed. Unlike Riggs, Williams seems to have escaped any legal repercussions. So far.