Authorities across the country, and particularly in Florida, have begun to devote a great deal of energy and resources to cracking down on what they see as the growing problem of synthetic drug sales and use. The federal government has cited synthetic drug use as a growing public health threat, and has encouraged states to combat the spread of these substances. The Florida Attorney General has been active in cracking down on synthetic drugs in the past and has stepped up efforts at the end of 2012.

Criminalizing new substances

On December 11, 2012 Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi held a press conference to announce that she had issued an emergency order banning 22 more substances that people use to make synthetic drugs, normally referred to as "bath salts," "K2" or "spice." The order classified the substances as Schedule I controlled substances, making it a third degree felony to "sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver" the chemicals. Third degree felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

The Attorney General has stated that she plans to petition the legislature to codify her emergency order into legislation. As a follow-up to the announcement of the emergency order, state, county and local police departments visited retail establishments that sell the synthetic substances, asking them to relinquish their supplies willingly. Authorities threatened enforcement action against those who did not cooperate voluntarily.

Past emergency orders

This order is not the first action that the Florida authorities have taken with respect to synthetic drugs. In 2011, the Attorney General issued a similar emergency order, making it a felony to sell six substances commonly called bath salts that people vacationing in Florida on spring break often used. The legislature quickly passed a law banning those substances. The legislature then follow up in 2012 with further legislation outlawing 92 more substances in an effort to keep pace with synthetic drug manufacturers. In many cases, those who manufacture synthetic drugs alter the chemicals structures of the drugs slightly so that they are not using banned substances.

Talk to a lawyer

The continued efforts against synthetic drugs on the part of Florida authorities demonstrate how seriously they take these offenses. In their quest to remove such substances from the hands of the public, authorities will vigorously prosecute those facing drug offenses. If you have been charged with a drug crime, speak with an attorney with a proven track record of successfully handling such cases.

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