Some proponents of legalized marijuana believe that no one would create synthetic drugs if marijuana was legal. Lawmakers in Kentucky are not so sure, as they recently turned their attention to synthetic drug use and abuse in the state. Synthetic drugs like K2, which is similar to marijuana, are already classified as Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act by the federal government. In March, the House and Senate approved a version of the bill which would address the growing concerns. Gov. Beshear signed the bill into law in early April.
Bill Bans Classes of Drugs, Not Compounds
As other states are already passing laws to prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of synthetic drugs, people making the drugs are attempting to keep one step ahead by slightly varying the ingredients in the drugs.
Prosecutors in other states are watching their cases dissolve when drug test results show a different formulation than the formulation that is prohibited. To address this, the new law focuses on classes of drugs — not just compounds — allowing law enforcement to keep a step ahead of those caught making the synthetic versions.
The use of synthetic drugs has caused a spike in calls to local call centers from individuals who have taken the drug and are experiencing psychosis like symptoms, along with other detrimental effects. Even though these calls seem to have slowed in the last year, lawmakers are focused on punishing those who distribute and supply these types of drugs.
One way lawmakers are seeking to thwart the sale and production of synthetic drugs is through stiffer penalties. The new law allows law enforcement to charge retailers under the current seizure and forfeiture laws. Simple possession would be deemed a misdemeanor, while second and subsequent convictions for the sale of synthetic drugs would be a felony. Much tougher penalties would be imposed if trafficking is involved.
This focus on synthetic drugs has also reopened the discussion on legalizing marijuana in this country. Sixteen states have implements new laws that legalize the medical use of marijuana and are working to implement the new laws.
Any type of drug charge is a serious one. Those facing drug possession or manufacturing charges should discuss their case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.