For decades, law enforcement agencies have devoted enormous amounts of money, energy and investigative resources to fighting the so-called war on drugs. This has resulted in millions of people being arrested, charged, convicted and punished for drug crimes.
In recent years, the drug landscape has started shifting. States are decriminalizing marijuana and easing penalties for first-time, non-violent drug offenses. However, one troubling development has been an increase in the use and sale of synthetic drugs.
We wrote an article on how law enforcement agents are cracking down on punishing retail stores that sell synthetic drugs. In that article, which can be read here, we explore how businesses and manufacturers are able to get around state laws that ban these products and why it can be difficult to enforce synthetic drug laws.
What this environment of retail sales of synthetic drugs has contributed to is an increase in people using the drugs in recent years. People purchase products that may be mislabeled or misrepresented as lawful products like potpourri, herbs, tobacco and bath salts and inhale or ingest them in an attempt to experience similar effects of unlawful drugs like marijuana.
But these synthetic drugs can be quite dangerous. Users don't know what is in the drugs or what the potential effects could be and in some cases, they cause serious reactions including hallucinations, paranoia or violent outbursts.
This means that a person using synthetic drugs could ultimately face criminal charges stemming from drug violations as well as any criminal behavior in which a person may have been engaged under the influence of the drug. Recently, for example, a man in Chicago was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery after he shot and wounded two people while he was under the influence of K2, a type of synthetic marijuana.
Because of how aggressively police, prosecutors and lawmakers can be when it comes to fighting the war on synthetic drugs, it can be crucial for people facing criminal charges to have the help and guidance of an attorney familiar with state drug laws.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Prosecutor: Man demanded loyalty before fatally shooting friend in the face," Alexandra Chachkevitch and Carlos Sadovi, Feb. 6, 2015