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Synthetic Drugs

Many formerly legal substances have been recently banned as “synthetic drugs.”  Laws have been passed by the state legislature, local governments have passed ordinances, and the Attorney General has issued executive orders targeting “synthetic drugs.”

With the laws constantly changing, many people are buying and selling substances unaware that these items are now banned as “synthetic drugs.”  Lack of knowledge of the law is not a defense to a charge for possessing synthetic drugs.

Synthetic Drugs Defense Attorney in Gainesville, FL 

Being charged with possession of synthetic drugs in Florida can be a harrowing, overwhelming experience.  The qualified Alachua County synthetic drug attorneys of the Galigani Law Firm have approximately 50 years of combined legal experience and know what it takes to expose any weak links in the prosecution's case to help your situation. 

If you have been arrested and charged with possession of synthetic drugs in Alachua County, Gilchrist County, Columbia County, Baker County, Bradford County, Marion County, Levy County, or Union County, put the many years of experience and criminal defense specialization of the Galigani Law Firm on your case. We will have an experienced Gainesville drug defense attorney to sit with you and explain all your legal options. Your first consultation concerning your Gainesville Synthetic Drugs case with Galigani Law Firm is free, so call (352) 375-0812 to schedule your appointment today.

Overview of Synthetic Drug Law

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What Are Synthetic Drugs?

Certain drugs are naturally occurring such as marijuana can be processed and used without using extensive chemicals. Synthetic drugs, on the other hand, is a structural or functional analog of an already existing controlled substance. The drug is created to mimic the psychological and euphoric effects of another controlled substance. Some examples of these drugs include synthetic marijuana (spice or K2) and synthetic stimulants (bath salts).

Although law enforcement has been cracking down on these so-called designer dugs, they still exist legally in the United States. Synthetic drugs can be found at convince stores and gas stations disguised as plant food, herbal incense, potpourri, or even jewelry cleaner. They are often labeled as “not for human consumption” in order to avoid any regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Manufacturers of these synthetic drugs are constantly creating analogues of drugs in hopes it’ll mimic it. Since so many companies develop these synthetic substances, there’s no way to know exactly what chemicals are used to create the drug. It can be extremely hard to predict the impact these drugs can make on a person’s health because of this fact.

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Synthetic Drugs  in Florida

Florida is continually adding new drugs to the list of banned substances.  Synthetic drugs have repeatedly been targeted for crackdowns and new laws over the past few years.

For example, in June 2014, House Bill 697 banned six new synthetic drugs.  In addition, the Attorney General can issue executive orders temporarily banning new synthetic drugs.

Synthetic drugs are often sold as:

  • Bath salts;
  • Incense; or
  • Potpourri.

Synthetic drugs that you may be arrested for possessing include:

  • Flakka;
  • K2;
  • Spice;
  • Mr. Nice Guy;
  • Cloud Nine;
  • Scooby Snax;
  • ½ Baked Hulk; and
  • Purple Flake.

You may also be cited for violating local county or city ordinances targeting synthetic drugs, some of which target incense sold in certain forms and include many substances which are not synthetic drugs.

Many store owners and operators are unaware that some of the products they sell have been banned.  You could be charged with drug distribution for selling incense or other seemingly innocent products.

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Is Synthetic Weed Legal in Florida?

In the past, Floridians were able to purchase these synthetic drugs as the law hadn’t recognized how dangerous they were. However, over recent years the state of Florida has banned all types of synthetic drugs, which includes synthetic cannabis such as spice. They have been labeled as a Schedule I controlled substance, a category reserved for addictive drugs not used in medicine. 

The penalty for possessing synthetic cannabinoids will depend on how much of the substance you had access and control over. Possessing three grams of synthetic weed is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by: 

  • Up to one year in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $1,000 

Possessing more than three grams of synthetic weed is a third-degree felony. The maximum punishment a person can receive for a third-degree felony includes:

  • Up to 5 years in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $5,000

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Penalties for Possession of Synthetic Drugs

Penalties for possession of synthetic drugs depend on the amount you are found to be in possession of.

If the amount is under 3 grams, it is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to a year in jail;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines;
  • Up to a year of probation; and
  • Driver's license suspension.

If the amount is under 3 grams, it is a third-degree felony, punishable by:

  • Up to five years in prison;
  • Up to $5,000 in fines;
  • Up to five years of probation; and
  • Driver's license suspension.

If you are accused of selling synthetic drugs, you can face charges of drug distribution, which carry very severe penalties.

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Defenses to Synthetic Drugs Charges

Depending on the circumstances, some defenses are available to you.  The police may have mishandled evidence or the amount of drugs you are accused of having may be wrong.  It may be possible to prevent evidence from being admitted in court against you if it was obtained without a proper search warrant or the police lacked probable cause to stop and search you. 

If the synthetic drugs are found in a place where multiple people have access, for example in the living room of a house you share with roommates, the prosecution must prove that you had knowledge of the presence of the synthetic drugs as well as dominion and control over them.

The prosecution must also prove that you knowingly possessed synthetic drugs.  For example, if you purchase a product you believe to be normal incense, and intend to use it as incense and not to get high off of, you should not be convicted of possession of synthetic drugs.  However, merely not knowing that the substance you possess has been banned is not a defense to a charge of possession of synthetic drugs.

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Can Synthetic Weed Be Detected in a Drug Test?

One of the biggest allures of synthetic drugs in the past is they won’t appear on a drug test. A few years ago, this was true. Often people on probation or undergoing drug treatment would use “spice” or “K2” instead of marijuana so they wouldn’t test positive on a drug test. The loophole gave many young people the incentive to use synthetic drugs, which are arguably more unsafe and unpredictable than cannabis.

However, times are changing. Florida law enforcement agencies have begun developing new testing methods that would also detect certain analogues as well as standard controlled substances. Organizations such as the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) have begun testing different samples of synthetic drugs and cannabinoids. They collect samples tested by criminal justice programs and send them to an independent lab that tests for 150 drugs at once. Through this process, CESAR can identify metabolites used to mimic a controlled substance. From there, they can alert lawmakers of which metabolites should be tested for.

Over time, synthetic weed and other types of synthetic drugs will no longer go undetected on a drug test. It’s likely your local law enforcement agency is already attempting to test for these synthetic analogues. Taking the risk of undergoing a test after using spice is not worth the possible penalties you may face.  

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Gainesville Synthetic Drugs Attorney in Florida

If you have been charged with possession of synthetic drugs in Gainesville or the surrounding areas, including Alachua County, Ocala in Marion County, and Lake City in Columbia County, contact the experienced synthetic drug defense lawyers of the Galigani Law Firm. They will do whatever it takes to fight for a favorable outcome in your Gainesville synthetic drugs case. To schedule a free initial synthetic drugs case consultation with the Galigani Law Firm, call (352) 375-0812 today.

Start speaking to an experienced drug defense attorney in Gainesville today. Galigani Law Firm accepts clients throughout Alachua County including Newberry, Alachua, Gainesville, Hawthorne, Micanopy, La Crosse, and Waldo. 

Submit your information to schedule a free consultation with an attorney.

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