BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A spokesman for Drew Brees says the Saints quarterback had no idea his photo is being used to market a possible synthetic drug sold in Baton Rouge. While he would not elaborate, he says Brees will take "appropriate action".
Mary Hughes says her 16-year-old son had a bad reaction from after he smoked something called "Blue Brees". She says he could barely stand up and his speech was slurred.
The Baton Rouge store that sells it, called Zombieland, has signs posted saying products like this are not for human consumption. But Assistant District Attorney John Russell says the signs are almost pointless when packaging implies something else.
"It's kind of tongue-in-cheek little humor involved to let them know, 'Hey this is not really aromatherapy, it's not incense, it's not bath salts....it's exactly what you're looking for,'" said Russell.
The tongue-in-cheek image on the product Hughes's son smoked is of a zombie-like picture of Saints quarterback Drew Brees. That in itself could land the maker in legal trouble.
"The key is that they used the name in association with the number 9 jersey. Normally, leaving NFL or any other reference off is enough. But they didn't do that here," said John Church, LSU law professor. "They added the name 'Brees', so it seems as if that's what creates the connection in the minds of the consuming public. And I think it probably is a violation."
Prosecutors say says distributors of "Blue Brees" might be violating drug laws too. While the store owner insists they sell this product to use in oil burners and not for smoking, Russell says the way Louisiana's synthetic drug laws is written could be the difference.
"They've identified large groups of the organic molecules involved. So that by outlawing one group of organic molecules, you can effectively outlaw every substance that would fall within that group which could literally be hundreds of different variations," said Russell.
One of Zombieland's owners called 9News after Wednesday's and Thursday's stories aired. He tells us:
"We would like to apologize. There was no disrespect intended by using Drew Brees. We're fans. It wasn't meant to be a representation of him or the Saints. It was a play on words. As soon as we saw the negative feedback on the WAFB website, we took it off the shelf and will not replace it. Zombieland is an aromatherapy store. We do not condone the consumption of any kind of synthetic drugs (ex. bath salts or cannabinoids)."