Most people associate drug charges with drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or heroin. However, according to a Pioneer Press report, synthetic drug use remains widespread throughout the state. Synthetic drugs are man-made substances created to mimic drugs such as marijuana. They are typically found in shops under names such as bath salts or herbal incense.
Harmful effects of synthetic drugs are still largely unknown
According to the Pioneer Press article, a mass synthetic drug overdose at a house party two years ago resulted in modification of the language in certain drug statutes. Prosecutors claim that manufacturers of synthetic drugs can get around regulations by slightly modifying the drugs ingredients.
The Hennepin Regional Poison Control Center reports that the use of synthetic drugs grew significantly between 2010 and 2011. A representative from the Center reports that the trend appears to be declining, but says this may be because physicians are more comfortable treating synthetic drug users, which means calls to the Poison Control Center are less frequent.
The drug expert mentioned above warns that synthetic drugs are especially dangerous because their effects are still largely unknown. She notes that most users of synthetic drugs do not know how the drug will affect their systems, and are not aware of the potentially life threatening consequences.
Since the effects of synthetic drugs are still unknown, there are currently very few experts on the drugs. This means that prosecutors often have a difficult time proving their severe consequences.
Selling synthetic drugs is now a felony under new legislation
The increase in synthetic drug use has prompted stricter penalties for both buying and selling synthetic substances. Numerous additional chemicals are now included in the state's list of controlled substances. Additionally, there is now a law banning any substance that contains a similar chemical composition to an officially banned substance.
The list of controlled substances recently expanded with the adoption of legislation by the Minnesota House of Representatives. Although the statues have already been reworked, the Minnesota Representative responsible for the legislation says that even more needs to be done. He alleges that the inherently complex nature of synthetic drugs makes it easier for manufacturers to modify the molecular structure.
The Chicsago County Press reports that the legislation broadens the definition of a "synthetic" substance to account for these slightly modified substances. The legislation also gives the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy more power.
Finally, the legislation imposes an even higher penalty for selling synthetic drugs. Selling a synthetic material is now a felony, rather than a gross misdemeanor. This means potential penalties now include a fine of up to $10,000 or prison time of up to five years and or both.
These are extremely strict penalties for selling a drug with effects that are still generally unknown. Along with the fines and jail time, a drug conviction often comes with additional consequences. An individual convicted of a drug crime may lose their home or vehicle and often faces difficulty obtaining employment and financial assistance.
An individual facing drug charges should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can thoroughly investigate all charges, protect important rights and help mitigate the potential damage.