SC Law Blog

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Synthetic Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana can be found across the Grand Strand Area, most likely at your local smoke shop. It is often marketed as herbal incense. But, what many people don't realize is that some forms of synthetic marijuana are illegal, like bath salts which is commonly referred to as "K2."Synthetic marijuana began to become heavily regulated across the United States starting around the year 2009. At least 45 of the states across the United States have banned some form of synthetic marijuana. One of the reasons for many of the states banning many forms of synthetic marijuana is the reported negative health effects. Possible side effects have included: extreme anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, vomiting, and heart attacks. The problem the legislature is having is that the chemical make up of any drug is specified so that tests can be performed to determine if a drug is the drug it appears to be.  If you are in possession of baby powder in a small baggy, you cannot be convicted of possession of cocaine. Most often a drug test is conducted in every drug case where an attorney is involved challenging the evidence. This drug test must conclusively delineat the material being tested as drug "a" or drug "b". Synthetic marijuana's chemical make up is being altered regularly so that what is codified as illegal is no longer illegal once a test is performed.

On July 9, 2012, federal action was taken when the Federal Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention act was enacted. Federal law now classifies compounds commonly used in synthetic marijuana as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance which puts it in the same category with non-synthetic marijuana. This means that the penalties are just as strict for possession of, or the selling/distributing/manufacturing of synthetic marijuana as they are for non-synthetic marijuana. Penalties can carry a prison sentence of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $5,000 dollars. The act also encourages states to take the same steps. South Carolina has followed suit with their legislation at almost every level of government.

 The local news has been running many segments and news articles regarding synthetic marijuana. Just recently, some high school students at Socastee High were arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana. The details of this story can be found here:

The health effects are real and the penalties are real as well, if you are facing marijuana related charges, contact your local criminal defense attorney Daniel Selwa.

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