Per the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, it is illegal to sell or use synthetic drugs such as K2 and Spice. Synthetic hallucinogenic and synthetic cannabis are now considered illegal just as their natural counterparts. The passage of this bill in 2012 placed these synthetic substances into the same class of drugs as marijuana- Schedule I according to the Controlled Substances Act of the United States. This bill, in total, targeted the ban of 31 synthetic compounds due to their ability to produce incredibly similar side effects to the drugs they are simulating.
The increasing popularity of synthetic drugs over the past years led to an increase in the number of emergency room visits for reason of drug overdose and other similar symptoms according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Prior to the passage of the synthetic drug act, there were some synthetic substances or other substances that contained synthetic cannabis that were scheduled according to the Controlled Substances Act. There were other synthetic drugs that had become a topic of concern, but had not yet been scheduled.
Some officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have still alluded to the fact that this nationwide ban is too narrow, and that more substances should have been included. Regardless, the passage of this bill will likely increase the amount of drug arrests throughout the nation. Why the sudden focus on synthetic drugs? The heavy focus possibly came as a result of the May 2012 incident in Miami in which a man who was allegedly under the influence of bath salts “chewed the face off" of a homeless man.
The president of the Miami Fraternal Order of police stated that this particular case was very similar to other instances in which bath salts caused extreme side effects. He stated that it was not the first time he had seen someone rip off their clothes and do something drastic with seemingly superhuman strength. An extreme incident like this no doubt is what many people think of when the term “synthetic drugs" is mentioned.
Due to the increased likelihood of drug arrests in this new category of narcotic, it is important for defendants to remember that they can have an advocate on their side, fighting for their rights. There are actually many defenses against synthetic drug crimes, especially in the case of first-time offenders. Those who have no prior infractions of the sort may be able to get their judgments dismissed due to programs like California’s drug diversion or “deferred entry of judgment" per Penal Code § 1000. To learn more, be sure to get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer near you!