For more than three decades, America's War on Drugs has criminalized the production, distribution, and consumption of controlled substances. While lawmaking efforts associated with this campaign have aimed to reduce or eliminate activities associated with illegal drugs, there has been increasing concern in recent years about man-made synthetic (or “designer”) drugs.
This is especially true in Alabama, where health officials announced in April 2015 that 462 people were hospitalized and two people died because of alleged synthetic marijuana consumption. More than 300 different chemical compounds have now been added to Alabama's listing of Schedule I controlled substances, and alleged offenders can face very strict penalties for possession of any of these types of drugs.
Huntsville Synthetic Drugs Lawyer
Are you currently under investigation or were you recently arrested for a crime that allegedly involved a synthetic controlled substance? Law Offices Of Segal & Segal has more than 40 years of combined experience handling all sorts of drug cases.
Our Madison County synthetic drug attorneys at Law Offices Of Segal & Segal fight for the rights of clients in Huntsville as well as many other communities in nearby areas like Morgan County, Limestone County, Marshall County, and Jackson County. Call (256) 533-4529 or send us an online message today to take advantage of a free consultation that will let our firm review your case.
Alabama Synthetic Drugs Information Center
- How is a drug defined as being a synthetic controlled substance?
- Which kinds of crimes can people be charged with in regards to these substances?
- Are there any defenses in these types of cases?
The spate of hospitalizations and public health concerns in Alabama came years after lawmakers had already taken steps to criminalize many of the ingredients in synthetic marijuana. The Alabama State Board of Health can designate a substance as Schedule I if it finds that the substance has high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.
Code of Alabama § 20-2-23 specifically states, “Synthetic controlled substances or synthetic controlled substance analogues can be created more rapidly than they can be identified and controlled by action of the Legislature. There is a need for a speedy determination of their proper classification under existing law. It is therefore necessary to identify and classify new substances that have a potential for abuse, so that they can be controlled in the same manner as other substances controlled under existing state law.”
Generally, some of the most common synthetic drugs in Alabama are forms of synthetic marijuana (or cannabinoids) that are often sold as “potpourri” or “incense.” These are often herbal mixtures (possibly containing the psychoactive plant salvia divinorum) that are sprayed or “laced” with chemicals, liquids or powders such as AB-Pinaca and sold with the warnings that the products are not for human consumption.
However, many others claim to be herbal smoking mixtures. Two of the most common brand names for synthetic marijuana are K2 and Spice, although other examples include, but are not limited to:
- Black Widow;
- Bombay Blue;
- California Dreams;
- Daisy Potpourri;
- Dead Man Walking;
- King Cobra;
- Red Magic;
- XXX; and
- Zero Gravity.
In addition to synthetic drugs that mimic the use and effects of marijuana, there are other substances called cathinones that are amphetamine-like stimulants. The way these substances are packaged and used can imitate drugs such as cocaine or crystal meth. Synthetic cathinones such as bath salts or flakka are often powders that are snorted or smoked, but some may be liquids that are drank.
Unlawful possession of certain chemical compounds as defined under Code of Alabama § 13A-12-214.1 states that possession of salvia divinorum is illegal and violations of this statute are subject to the same penalties as possession of marijuana (referred to in the Code of Alabama as “marihuana”). This means that possession of synthetic marijuana for personal use is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of as much as $6,000. Possession of synthetic marijuana for a purpose other than personal use or a possession charge after being previous convicted will make the crime a Class C felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
In addition to these charges, possession of 56 grams or more of a synthetic drug or synthetic analogue can be considered the Class A felony offense of trafficking. These crimes may be punishable by up to 99 years in prison and as much as $60,000 in fines. Additionally, Code of Alabama § 13A-12-231also established some very harsh minimum sentences in these types of cases:
- 56 grams or more, but less than 500 grams — Mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of three years and fine of $50,000.
- 500 grams or more, but less than 1 kilogram— Mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and fine of $100,000.
- 1 kilogram or more, but less than 10 kilograms— Mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years and fine of $250,000.
- 10 kilos or more— Mandatory term of imprisonment of life without parole.
While alleged crimes involving synthetic controlled substances can be very frightening for the people facing these types of charges, such cases are still subject to many of the same legal standards as traditional illegal drug cases. This means that many of the defenses that would be available in a marijuana possession case could be applicable in a synthetic marijuana possession case.
Every case is different, but some possible defenses in these types of cases may include, but are not limited to:
- Alleged offender unaware of the illegal nature of the synthetic controlled substance;
- Alleged synthetic drug did not contain any illegal controlled substance;
- Illegal search and seizure;
- Inaccurate synthetic substance quantity;
- Insufficient evidence of possession; or
- No probable cause for arrest.
Find a Synthetic Drugs Lawyer in Huntsville
If you have been arrested for possessing, selling, or trafficking a synthetic designer drug in Alabama, you should not wait any longer to obtain legal representation. Law Offices Of Segal & Segal defends clients in communities throughout Northern Alabama, including Scottsboro, Decatur, New Hope, Albertville, Madison, and Athens.
Our firm's founders are both former prosecutors, as Andrew Segal is a former Assistant District Attorney for Madison County and Sandra Segal is a former Assistant City Attorney for Huntsville. You can have our Madison County synthetic drug attorneys review your case as soon as you call (256) 533-4529 or send us an online message to arrange a free, confidential consultation.