State & Federal Laws Aimed at Synthetic Marijuana
Several states and the federal government have taken action in recent months to address the growing use of synthetic forms of marijuana. Early reports in a number of the jurisdictions indicate that the statutes have been successful in curbing use of the substances.
By: James Davis
The New Drug
“K2” or “spice” is similar to natural marijuana in that it is engineered to deliver to the user a similar relaxing and euphoric “high” as that of natural marijuana. Synthetic marijuana, however, has a markedly different chemical composition. The cannabinoid compounds of marijuana, which are naturally occurring substances, are what deliver the drug’s psychoactive properties. Synthetic marijuana provides the user with its high from artificially engineered chemicals that are applied to a blend of herbs and plants. There is little uniformity among the chemical blends used.
Currently, 41 states have laws on the books banning the synthetic forms of marijuana sold under the brand names of “K2” or “spice.” Many of the states passing these laws did so between 2010 and 2012. Additionally, in July of this year, Congress sent President Obama federal legislation that would create a nationwide ban on the substances—the President signed the measure into law.
Punishments for Possession or Sale of Synthetic Marijuana
Punishments for possession or sale of synthetic drugs under the new federal law are potentially very significant. The federal statute classifies synthetic marijuana as a Schedule I drug, which is the most restrictive category of federal regulation. A conviction for sale or possession of synthetic marijuana can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. If the purchaser of the drugs later becomes seriously injured or killed, that sentence jumps up to 20 years to life in prison. The federal penalties are on top of those levied by state law.
In the wake of the new federal ban, drug enforcement authorities have been extremely active in attempting to root out the drug. In late July, law enforcement authorities initiated the first-ever nationwide crackdown on synthetic marijuana, spanning around 100 cities. The crackdown descended upon “smoke shops” and convenience stores everywhere from Tampa to upstate New York, and from Duluth, Minnesota to South Padre Island, Texas.
Florida Criminal Defense
Unfortunately, the heavy-handed tactics by state and federal law enforcement officials continues with synthetic marijuana as with actual marijuana. Considering the very significant penalties for convictions of these new laws, if you are accused of selling or purchasing synthetic marijuana, you should contact an experienced Florida criminal attorney right away. It is not uncommon for corners to be cut by officials in their effort to make arrest under these laws—you have the right to fight back against all enforcement overreaches.