FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE [Hon. Joseph N. Laplante, U.S. District Judge]
Jeffrey M. Brandt, with whom Robinson & Brandt, P.S.C.
was on brief, for appellant.
R. Aframe, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Emily
Gray Rice, United States Attorney, was on brief, for
Torruella, Lynch, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.
TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.
Hurley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute, and
possess with the intent to distribute, controlled substances.
Hurley stipulated to possession of 1, 451.7 kilograms of
synthetic cannabinoid product, which consisted of the
chemicals XLR11 and AB-FUBINACA sprayed onto plant leaves.
After a sentencing hearing, the district court sentenced
Hurley to 114 months of imprisonment. Hurley appeals his
in 2014, undercover officers started purchasing synthetic
cannabinoid products from convenience stores supplied by
Robert Costello. Hurley was Costello's supplier, and,
after undercover officers asked Costello if he could supply
them with large quantities of product, Costello agreed to
introduce the undercover officers to Hurley. At the meeting,
Hurley agreed to provide fifteen kilograms of synthetic
cannabinoid product for $7, 500. Costello retrieved and
delivered the product, and Hurley called one of the
undercover officers to confirm that he was happy with the
product. Thereafter, Hurley participated in a series of
recorded discussions with the undercover officers to arrange
a larger transaction, and ultimately he provided the officers
with approximately 1, 100 kilograms of synthetic cannabinoid
product in exchange for approximately $500, 000.
arrested Hurley after he picked up the money. Following his
arrest, search warrants were executed at Costello's home
in Lawrence, Massachusetts, at a garage on property owned by
Hurley's relative in Seabrook, New Hampshire, and at a
location in Epping, New Hampshire where Hurley manufactured
the product. At these locations, officers discovered more
synthetic cannabinoid product.
cannabinoid products are created by mixing an organic
"carrier" medium, typically an herb-like substance
such as damiana leaves,  and a synthetic compound. Once
manufactured, the final product is intended to resemble
marihuana and is typically smoked in pipes or joints and can
also be made into tea. The leaves in the product are inert,
so the psychoactive effect on the user derives exclusively
from the chemical sprayed onto the leaves. Synthetic
cannabinoid products, in general, can have similar
psychological and physiological effects to marihuana. Hurley
made his product by placing inert, non-narcotic leaves in a
cement mixer, spraying the leaves with two chemicals,
AB-FUBINACA and XLR11, and then applying acetone to the
product to dry it out.