A dangerous drug is readily available in some states despite efforts by state regulators to ban it. Spice is a slang term for synthetic marijuana. It was once an actual brand but has become shorthand for a wide variety of similar products. It’s a mixture of herbs that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. The point of experimenting with cannabinoids was to eliminate the effects of cannabinoids that create a “high” while maintaining the pain relief effects. However, with many of the compounds used, this did not happen—actually, they can be just as potent as many forms of marijuana. Nevertheless, Spice is legal in most states and can be found at smoke shops, gas stations, or online.
Research on the safety of Spice is now becoming available and initial studies show its dangerous effects. Chris Wrath’s father had never heard of Spice until his son killed himself following Spice-inducted hallucinations. This has led California state regulators, on two occasions, to outlaw some of the compounds found in spice. Yet it remains widely available. Spice manufacturers have responded to the regulatory efforts by changing their formula, and then re-stocking retailers with supposedly legal blends. Further, Spice is regularly marketed in the U.S. as “incense.” This is to prevent it from having to adhere to more stringent regulations were it labeled a medicine or smokable product.
NMS labs conducted a study where they tested two samples—one from a California smoke shop and another used by Chris Wrath, the young man who killed himself during a Spice-induced psychotic episode. According to their findings, both samples complied with the law at the time of testing.
Given these tragic findings, in Pennsylvania, both the DEA and Commonwealth have banned synthetic cannabinoids and have classified them as “Schedule I” drugs. Unless the Commonwealth decides to attach specific penalties to these substances, the penalties for synthetic marijuana include: (1) possession with intent to distribute: an ungraded felony with a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000; (2) simple possession: up to one year in prison and up to $2,500 in fines for a first offense. If it is a subsequent offense then it is up to 3 years in prison with up to $25,000 in fines; and (3) DUI: up to six months in prison, 12 month license suspension and $5,000 in fines for first offense.
Nevertheless, it remains very much a cat and mouse game in Pennsylvania. Just as in California, lawmakers can act swiftly to ban these drugs, but manufacturers are even quicker. Therefore, it is critical that parents are aware of these synthetic drugs and the fact that just because they are available online or in convenience stores does not mean that they are safe or legal. Please educate your children on the danger of Spice and take it just as seriously as any other drug. Click here for general information about Drug Crimes
In any case, every chemical has different properties and produces different results in blood tests. Currently, many labs are using non-validated methods, which can result in false positives, false conclusions, and false convictions. This is why any case involving synthetic drugs should be handled by a well-versed attorney. Whether it’s a possession or a DUI case, the toxicology reports need to be examined by a defense attorney who specializes in these types of cases. At Fairlie and Lippy, a free initial consultation with our accomplished attorneys to discuss your important matter will convince you that we are the best Pennsylvania law firm for you.