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Synthetic Drugs

Arrests and prosecutions for synthetic marijuana and other “designer drugs” are on the rise. Synthetic drugs can include 25i-NBOMe (fake LSD), bath salts, molly, and synthetic marijuana.

The packages for the “designer drugs” are often colorful or marketed in the same way as legitimate products. In many cases, these substances are sold at local smoke shops and gas stations through local distributers that purchase the products from manufacturers overseas. The packaging often says “not for human consumption.”

The manufacturers of these designer drugs continuously change the chemical structures of the substances faster than the legislature can act. In these cases, prosecutors use controlled substance analogue provisions in state and federal court if the substance is "substantially similar" to an identified and prohibited substance.

Attorney for Synthetic Drugs in San Antonio TX

The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr in San Antonio, TX, represent clients charged with crimes related to the possession of designer synthetic drugs, including possession with intent to sell, delivery and trafficking these substances.

Our attorneys also represent business owners and retail businesses accused of selling synthetic drugs. Contact the drug defense attorneys in San Antonio, Texas, at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr for a free and confidential consultation.

Call 210-226-1463 today.


History of Legislation in Texas for Synthetic Forms of Marijuana

Synthetic marijuana was often packaged as K2, Psycho Potpourri, Kush, Scooby Snax, Fire & Ice, Spice, OMG, Ultra Zombie Matter. The substance became popular because it doesn't show up in drug tests the way marijuana does.

In 2011, the Texas Legislature added synthetic forms of marijuana to the Texas Controlled Substance Act within Penalty Group 2-A. Four years later, the Texas Legislature amended the Texas Controlled Substance Act to include any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of certain natural or synthetic chemical substances.

The amendment that became effective on September 1, 2015, specifically included any controlled substance analogue that has a chemical structure substantially similar to a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 2-A, which was intended to include synthetic forms of marijuana.


Prosecuting Legal Designer Synthetic Drugs Mimicking Psychedelics

The 84th Texas Legislature made it easier to prosecute the possession or distribution of designer synthetic drugs that mimicked psychedelics. Prior to September 1, 2015, prosecutions for these types of designer synthetic drugs had not been successful because these substances had not been specifically listed in the Texas Controlled Substance Act.

In order to allow for the prosecution of these types of designer synthetic drugs, the 84th Texas Legislature amended the Texas Controlled Substance as to include substances in Penalty Group 1-A and 2, including 25I-NBOMe. This substance, 25I-NBOMe (also known as 2C-I-NBOMe, Cimbi-5, 25I) is a psychedelic hallucinogen that is similar to LSD. 25I-NBOMe was originally used in biochemistry research for mapping the brains usage of the type 2A serotonin receptor but later became popular for recreational purpose.

Penalty Group 1-A and 2 substances were listed in Section 481.103, Health and Safety Code through the following provision:

If a substance listed in this Section is approved by the Federal Drug Administration, the inclusion of that substance in this penalty group does not apply, and notwithstanding any other law, a person may not be convicted for the manufacture or delivery of the substance under Section 481.113 or for possession of the substance under Section 481.116. SB172 amended Health and Safety Code by Acts of the 84th Leg., Eff. Sept. 1., 2015.

On that same date, Section 481.0355 Health and Safety Code was amended to allow the commissioner to act on an emergency basis to schedule a substance as a controlled substance if the commissioner determined the action was necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety.


Legislation to Prohibit the Possession or Distribution of Bath Salts

In 2011, certain complex synthetic substances were marketed and sold as bath salts. These substances were legally sold in Texas because these dangerous substances were not subject to the Texas Controlled Substances Act.

At the time, these substances sold as bath salts were not even regulated by federal law because they were not marketed for human consumption, although they were smoked, injected or snorted which caused the consumer to get high, have hallucinations and suffer from paranoia or psychosis.

Bath salts were particularly problematic because it was reported that the users of the substances exhibit violent behavior. The use of bath salts consumption of bath salts was also linked to suicide and self-mutilation.

Other states became issuing emergency bans or passed legislation that specifically banning the substances. The Texas Legislature eventually added the compounds found in these bath salts to the list of substances regulated under the Texas Controlled Substances Act which then criminalized the possession, manufacture, and delivery of bath salts under Texas Law.


Texas Health and Safety Code §481.106

Under Texas Health and Safety Code §481.106, synthetic drug cases can be prosecuted under the controlled substance analogue provision if:

  • the substance has a chemical structure that is “substantially similar” to the chemical structure of a controlled substance listed in one of the penalty groups; or
  • the substance is designed to produce an effect substantially similar to or greater than a controlled substance listed in one of the penalty groups.

Unlike federal law, Texas law does not require proof that the substance is not intended for human consumption. Penalty groups included in the Texas controlled substance analogue provision include Penalty Group 1, Penalty Group 1-A, and Penalty Group 2-A.

“Penalty Group 2-A consists of any quantity of a synthetic chemical compound that is a cannabinoid receptor agonist and mimics the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids.

The term "abusable synthetic substance" is defined in Section 484.001, Health and Safety Code. Synthetic controlled substances are listed in Penalty Group 2-A under Section 481.1031, Health and Safety Code. The term "synthetic drug" is defined to mean an abusable synthetic substance or a synthetic controlled substance.


Finding Lawyers for Designer Drug Crimes in Bexar County, TX

We represent clients charged with the manufacture, sale, and possession of the unregulated compounds classified as a prohibited synthetic drug or cannabinoid. Many of these synthetic drugs are distributed locally but imported from overseas.

We understand the laws in Texas that apply to the possession, sell, delivery or manufacture of controlled substance analogues when those substances are created to produce an effect substantially similar to a controlled substance. Contact our drug crimes lawyers in San Antonio, TX, to discuss your case. We can help you understand the most effective ways to fight the case and avoid the harsh penalties that might come with a conviction.

We represent clients charged with simple possession of controlled substances and more complicated cases for drug trafficking in state and federal court.

Call 210-226-1463.


This article was last updated on Friday, November 22, 2017.

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