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Synthetic Drug Arrests

Florida has some of the harshest penalties for convictions of drug charges in the country.
Recently, Florida has passed new laws that ban specific ingredients that make up synthetic drugs making the consequences of a conviction for their possession equivalent to a similar illegal organic substance.

For example, if you've been arrested for smoking or selling synthetic marijuana or any other cannabis substitutes in the State of Florida you can be charged with a third degree felony depending on the individual circumstance. This holds true for many other man made substances such as bath salts, flakka and many other synthetic materials that can result in drug-related charges. If a conviction occurs for a third degree felony you can lose your freedom as it is punishable by up to five years in prison. It can also cost you up to $5000 in fines. Additionally, you can lose your driver's license for at least one year even if you are sentenced to probation.

Based on Florida's Criminal Punishment Code, the magic number that will decide what the sentence will be regarding a synthetic drug conviction is three (3). A conviction for possession of less than three grams of a synthetic drug is classified a First Degree Misdemeanor. A sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, or both can be imposed. If the amount possessed is over three grams, the sentence is assigned a Level 3 offense of the Code's severity ranking which can result with a sentence of up to five years in jail, a fine of up to $5000, or both. In each of these cases a judge may deliver a corresponding sentence of probation. Of course unless innocence can be proved, probation is a best case scenario and the reason why an experienced Fort Lauderdale Criminal Drugs Attorney should be consulted if charges are filed or if an investigation has commenced.  

My law office is here to help if you or a loved one is arrested for any type of charges related to illegal drugs including what are known as synthetic or designer drugs.

As previously explained, many people may not realize that the penalties for synthetic drug charges as opposed to their illegal organic equivalents can be the same if they are found guilty; and for good reason. In addition to the "similar high" that these substances induce, experts have found that they are much more dangerous (see bottom of page).

Many people don't realize these items are illegal since designer drugs have only been banned in Florida since the legislature passed a new special law in May 2013. Before that, many of these substances were openly sold in convenience stores, gas stations and other retail outlets right next to breath mints and chewing gum. In some cases they still are. Their packaging is appealing to the eye and most people don't recognize the physical dangers they pose as well as the legal ramifications. They are also easily available by way of the Internet marketed openly by websites such as and among many others. They are usually labeled "not safe for human consumption" and come with disclaimers printed on the packages. They are often sold as incense.

A study by researchers at The University of South Florida found that smoking synthetic cannabinoid compounds can induce strokes in normally healthy adults. They have also been linked to brain damage, psychosis and even death.

Synthetic marijuana is mainly marketed by the name of "Spice". But other common names of this product are K2, Blaze, Bliss, Skunk, Moon Rocks and available under many other labels. The one thing they all have in common is the chemical makeup that causes them to be illegal. In March, 2012, more than one hundred forty chemicals that can be used to make synthetic cannabinoids were banned in Florida. But the manufacturers of these products are smart and keep changing the chemicals and molecular structure.

On a federal level, in July, 2012, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act passed through the legislature and was signed into law by the president. It banned synthetic compounds commonly found in synthetic marijuana, placing them under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.

Most of these products are created in laboratories in China and the trafficking of them into the country can be punished with much more severe penalties. Trafficking is a first degree felony with the potential of a prison sentence of up to thirty years of incarceration and costly fines. To read an article posted on my blog that details one of these cases involving the importation of a synthetic drug called flakka, click here. Follow my blog or check back here for future articles to be posted about this growing legal issue.

Designer drugs have become more popular in recent years. Because of the recent rise in usage of synthetic drugs throughout the nation, particularly led by South Florida, authorities have been cracking down on the prosecution of offenders. Broward County is the leading region where cases like these have risen to near epidemic proportions.

The DEA has outlawed the five main chemicals in spice this past March but new formulas with only a single, different molecule has made it difficult to prosecute some cases. Before an arrest can successfully take place for selling spice and other similar items of this nature, the dried leaves must be tested to verify they contain the illegal chemicals.

I am always available to help if you find yourself under arrest for possession of organic or synthetic drugs of any variety or under suspicion for manufacturing, trafficking or distribution in either the state or federal courts. When it is essential to immediately contact a qualified criminal defense attorney, your call will be taken 24/7 including all holidays. With close to forty years in the legal profession working as a former Assistant State Attorney for Broward County, Florida, and an Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting cases for the government and currently practicing as a criminal defense attorney in South Florida for almost the past twenty years, my law office is the logical choice to fight all allegations filed by the prosecution.

To view all of my qualifications and understand what should be done next if you or someone you care about is arrested for synthetic drug charges or are facing any other criminal allegations, click here.

Names of synthetic drugs that have been recently banned in Florida:
Bath Salts
: contains MDVP (Methylenedioxypyrovalerone) banned in 2011 under an emergency order making it a felony to sell or possess. Some are marketed under the names Route 69, Vanilla Sky, White Rush, and, Bolivian Bath. Side effects include increased heart rate, hallucinations, nosebleeds, paranoia, kidney failure, seizures and death.

Flakka: also known as gravel is made from the chemical alpha-PVP, a synthetic form of the stimulant cathinone. It was banned in Florida in March 2014. It floods the brain with dopamine producing a feeling of euphoria. Side effects include high blood pressure, bleeding to the brain, seizures, irregular heartbeat, high body temperature, psychosis and death.

Synthetic cannabinoid compounds: banned in Florida in 2012 but the chemical makeup is constantly changing. It is sold under many names including Spice, K2, Incense, Blaze, Bliss, Skunk, Potpourri, Herbal incense, Code Black, Diablo, Mary Jane's Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Fake Weed, Genie, Mojo, Scooby Snax, Zohai Yucatan Fire, Skunk and Moon Rocks among other labels. It looks like tobacco or marijuana and produces a similar high. The chemicals are spayed on dried plant material and chopped herbs. It is the most popular of all synthetic drugs, cheap, and easy to obtain. Side effects include psychotic episodes, agitation, seizures, uncontrollable body movements, paranoia, increased anxiety, hallucinations, and death.