WEST PALM BEACH —Two men who ran what federal prosecutors have said was one of the country’s largest synthetic marijuana operations received reduced prison sentences Wednesday before a courtroom packed with supporters.
John Shealey, co-owner of the West Palm Beach-based Kratom Lab, was sentenced to 18 months behind bars, while his business partner, Dylan Harrison, received a prison term of a year and a day. Prosecutors had been requesting sentences at least twice as long for both men.
Shealey, 40, and Harrison, 32, raked in millions of dollars in just two years with their product “Mr. Nice Guy” — a brand of synthetic marijuana that became so well-known that it spawned knockoffs.
The rise of Kratom Lab mirrored the nationwide boom in synthetic marijuana, which the Drug Enforcement Administration estimated was a $5 billion industry in 2011. Synthetic marijuana — sometimes called “K2” or “Spice” — had been linked to more than 11,000 emergency-room visits nationwide in 2010, with side effects including rapid heart rate, nausea, seizures, renal failure and psychotic episodes.