Allegations: Sex shops sold cannabis, called it 'tea'

A MAN accused of running a synthetic cannabis ring out of regional Queensland adult shops has been granted bail on the condition he have nothing to do with the business.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard David Andre Jules Piccinato allegedly sold synthetic cannabis under the counter of Love Heart adult shops in Toowoomba, Mackay, Rockhampton and Bundaberg calling them "tea".

He is accused of starting to sell the drugs in 2011, before they were illegal, but they were banned in 2013 and he allegedly continued to sell them until January 2015.

Mr Piccinato has been in jail since January 14, 2016 when he was arrested. Crown prosecutor Sarah Dennis said after the product was made illegal, Mr Piccinato had a meeting with some high ranking employees at the Brisbane airport.

She said although a number said they were uncomfortable selling the drug, Mr Piccinato told them it was keeping the business afloat and if staff did not sell it they would be fired.

Police raided the Mackay Love Heart store after two men died from the drug in January 2015.

Ms Dennis said police had investigated claims Mr Piccinato's stores were still selling the product in October 2015 - but had not charged him with offences past the raid.

Mr Piccinato's defence said although the deaths were mentioned in the Crown's objection to bail he had not been charged with any offences related to their deaths.

Justice David Boddice said if Mr Piccinato was banned from interacting with the business or its employees, agreed to report to police every day, and placed a $100,000 surety, the risk of breaching bail could be mitigated.

Justice Boddice said the defence had indicated they were likely to question whether the product was illegal under the synthetic cannabis definition.

Mr Piccinato was granted bail. The matter is set to be mentioned in Brisbane Magistrates Court in June. - APN NEWSDESK


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