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A Boca Raton man pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to distribute synthetic marijuana after authorities said he used his business to market and sell the product, the Department of Justice announced.
Joel Lester, 52, will forfeit $300,000 as part of a plea deal but could face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, authorities said.
As owner of Nature and Health in Boca Raton, Lester marketed and sold synthetic marijuana products to convenience stores and gas stations that were then sold to the public. Authorities said he continued to sell the products even after an emergency ban by the Drug Enforcement Administration in March 2011 of many of the substances in his products.
Lester knowingly distributed and possessed with the intent to distribute at least 10 kilograms but no more than 20 kilograms of the banned products, according to the plea agreement.
His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24.
Synthetic marijuana recently made the news in May after the Sweetwater City Commission unanimously approved an ordinance that banned the sale of the fake marijuana.
Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño's proposal to expand his city's synthetic drug ordinance gained strong support Thursday night at the Miami-Dade League of Cities meeting.