Florida law categorizes controlled substances, or drugs, into five schedules based in part on their potential for misuse and whether there is an accepted medicinal use for the drugs in treatment in the United States. These schedules, or categories, are used to determine the seriousness of an offense involving drugs, and thus the seriousness of the punishment if you are convicted. Schedule I drugs are generally considered the most dangerous and include drugs such as heroin, meth, or marijuana.
In the last few years, Florida has officially banned synthetic drugs, including synthetic marijuana and other artificial stimulants, and has labeled them as Schedule I controlled substances. Synthetic drugs are meant to imitate the effects of actual drugs. For example, synthetic cannabinoids or synthetic marijuana, sometimes referred to as "K2" or "spice," typically mimics the effects of illegal drugs like marijuana. Even though synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs are illegal in Florida, and it is a crime to possess any amount of synthetic drugs, their use is on the rise in Florida, particularly because they are more accessible and easier to obtain than the actual drugs. Oftentimes, synthetic drugs are sold in gas stations, alongside candy and gum, to people believing these substances are legal.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic cannabinoids are not a naturally occurring substance. Dangerous, mind-altering chemicals are sprayed onto grounded plant material that has been dried to resemble marijuana. The synthetic marijuana is smoked or consumed as a liquid to be inhaled through a vape pen or e-cigarette. They are also known as liquid incense and herbal incense..
The chemicals used in some of these synthetic marijuana products are called cannabinoids only because they have a similar to chemicals that is also found in the cannabis plant. However, to assume that these synthetic cannabinoids, also known as fake weed and synthetic marijuana, are safe and legal alternatives to marijuana is not true. Several organizations have conducted studies on the safety of these fake marijuana products and found that the chemicals are "safe and could harm the brain." Many studies also show that the effects on the user are often dangerous, unpredictable, can be life-threatening.
Synthetic cannabinoids are categorized as a type of drug called "New Psychoactive Substances" or NPS. New Psychoactive Substances are "unregulated mind-altering substances" that have been banned in many states. A lot of these chemical substances may have been sold for many years but have recently become popular again.
Penalties if Found Guilty of Possessing Synthetic Marijuana in Florida
If you are found to possess any amount of synthetic drugs in Florida, you can be subject to fines, jail time, and probation, not to mention the consequences that a criminal conviction has on your ability to obtain and keep a job and even your ability to obtain a student loan. The severity of the penalty ordinarily depends on the number of synthetic drugs in your possession. If you possess less than three grams of synthetic drugs, you can be found guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, and penalties can include up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. You also face a two-year driver's license suspension upon conviction. If you are found with more than three grams of synthetic drugs, you can be convicted of a third-degree felony meaning the penalties can include up to five years in jail, a legal fine of up to $5,000, and again, a two-year driver's license suspension.
It is important to note that synthetic drugs are potentially more dangerous than the actual drugs because the chemical compounds may often contain harmful heavy metal residues or other unknown ingredients that may have additional harmful effects. The chemical compounds can cause significant and often permanent harm to the people using them. In the first three weeks of April, poison control centers in Florida received about one thousand reports of patients overdosing on synthetic marijuana – this number is double the number of incidents reported between January and March.
Recently, it was reported that a Florida man was arrested for possession of synthetic cannabinoids, and he was charged with the crime of "possession of synthetic cannabinoids with intent to sell/distribute."
Jackson County Sheriff's deputies stated that they witnessed two men walking across Highway 71 and toward an area of closed businesses. The Sheriff's deputies then witnessed the two men standing next to a motor vehicle. Inside the vehicle, there was another subject inside the vehicle. Another person was using an ATM closeby. The Sheriff's deputies watched the individuals, and their activities appeared suspicious, and so the Sheriff's deputies approached the group of men.
One of the suspect's was "patted down" to ensure officer safety, and during the pat-down, the Sheriff's deputy removed a bag of a leafy green substance later to be discovered as K2 Spice. The dealer also had in his possession one digital scale and a box of small Ziploc "jewelry" baggies that are usually found in cases of illicit drug sales. The deputies stated that the green leafy substance was tested and returned a positive result for cannabinoids. Over 25 grams of the K2 Spice was seized.
Let Our Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Fight Your Synthetic Drug Possession Charge
An arrest or charge involving the possession of controlled substances should not be taken lightly. A conviction involving the possession of even synthetic drugs such as K2 or spice can result in significant jail time and hefty fines, not to mention other consequences. A conviction can even affect your driving privileges and your ability to get a job or student loan.
If you or a member of your family have been arrested and charged with possession of controlled substances, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Call Musca Law 1-888-484-5057 to discuss your controlled substances charge and your legal options.