Jason Lang, the local businessman who caught got up in using bath salts and still faces some criminal charges that appear to stem from his use of the chemical substances, is doing much better, according to family members.
Lang appeared in Town of Batavia Court on Tuesday, which is a big step forward from July 17, when he didn't make it for a scheduled appearance, but did meet with reporters in the court parking lot minutes after his attorney left the facility.
Observers at the courthouse said Lang looks much healthier and his mother and sister say his mental outlook and demeanor have improved.
Today's court appearance was to answer to charges stemming from an alleged phone call he made to the owner of 400 Ellicott Street attempting to convince the landlord not to rent to The 420 Emporium. Lang allegedly posed as a State Police investigator and said the 420 sold synthetic marijuana.
The case was continued until 3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 18.
In the weeks following his alleged impersonation, Lang's name or his home address came up several times in calls on the police scanner for incidents that give the appearance of being related to bath salt use, including a report of Lang saying he heard gun shots at a local hotel. For that call, Lang was eventually charged with filing a false report and harassment, 2nd.
Since the last week of July, there have been no reported bath salt related calls connected with Lang's name.
Lang's mother, Nicole, said today that since the 420 closed, her son has not been using bath salts.
"He’s doing pretty good," Nicole Lang said. "He’s doing a lot better than he was doing. Now that the emporium is shut, I think it’s made a big difference."
Brandi Smith, Lang's sister, agreed.
She said in recent weeks, she's been able to talk with her brother on a daily basis, something they used to do but stopped doing for the time Lang appeared to be using bath salts.
Jason Lang has been going to daily sessions at GCASA, she said.
"The other day I drove past GCASA and I saw his car parked out front and it just brought a huge smile to my face to know that he’s going every day and he’s getting help," Smith said.
"Bath salts" is a generic media term for a class of substances that are sold under a broad range of product names and claims but when consumed cause stimulation, euphoria, hallucinations along with paranoia, agitation and fear.
The substances, meant to mimic drugs that were already outlawed, can also be highly addictive.
At one time, Jason Lang owned the Batavia Cab Company and the Laughing Buddha.
Lang has previously admitted to selling both bath salts and synthetic marijuana at the buddha.
Both companies went out of business about the time it became public knowledge that Lang was getting into trouble with the law.
During the seeming height of Jason Lang's contact with local law enforcement, Nicole Lang went to The 420 Emporium at 400 Ellicott St., Batavia, and demanded employees stop selling bath salts to her son.
She was convinced if it continued, her son wouldn't survive.
On Tuesday, prosecutors dropped the trespass charge against Nichole Lang stemming from that confrontation at the 420.
A couple of weeks after the confrontation, the 420 was raided by the DEA and its doors have been closed since.
The raid and the increased awareness about the dangers of bath salts, Smith said, have been a good thing for the Batavia community.
"It has really helped our community," Smith said. "Like I said, it’s harder for these people to find it and it pushes them to get clean quicker. Overall, I think our community is doing much better."
In general, Smith said, her brother's outlook has improved, he's much less paranoid -- though some paranoia lingers -- and he has a better grasp on reality.
She said it's good to have her bother back.
With the Lang family getting so much media attention in July, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office invited Smith to be part of his press conference in Buffalo earlier this month to announce new penalties in New York for the possession and sale of "bath salts."
Smith said it was a real honor to be included and get a chance to share with people about what the now-banned substances have done to her family.
"Unfortunately, we’ve had to live through it, but it has been a learning experience," Smith said. "I’m thankful for each person that I can maybe give some advice to and help them because we have been through this. Unfortunately, we had to live through it but I think by going through it, it makes us stronger and we’re able to help more people."