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Salih C. Alexander, Esquire

A Strong Voice for Justice

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Did you know? Synthetic Marijuana

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 12:40 PM Comments comments ()
The product known as "Spice", "K-2", or SYNTHETIC MARIJUANA is, in fact, ILLEGAL to POSSESS.
 
Many people feel that, since Spice can be legally bought at so-called "head shops" or "smoke shops", they can possess it without consequence. They would be incorrect. While I am optimistic that there are some possible ways to attack it, the better course of action is to avoid it. The fact of the matter is that it is punished under 18.2-250 of the Virginia Code as "possession of a controlled substance". The original law was introduced in 2011. In 2014, after investigative news journalists pointed out that there were "loopholes" being used (sellers would simply buy a different mixture so that they would not fall under the Code), the Governor introduced a change in the language of the statute that purportedly closed this loophole.
 
Today, although there are no field tests for officers to use and the officers will not send it to the state lab without being requested to do so by the Commonwealth's Attorney, you can still be charged with a violation of 18.2-250. This violation is a Class 1 Misdemeanor (0-12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500 plus whatever substance abuse class you have to attend and a 6 month suspension of your driver's license) if you possess it and it is a felony to distribute or sell it.
 
18.2-250 provides:
 
§ 18.2-250. Possession of controlled substances unlawful.
A. It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.).
Upon the prosecution of a person for a violation of this section, ownership or occupancy of premises or vehicle upon or in which a controlled substance was found shall not create a presumption that such person either knowingly or intentionally possessed such controlled substance.
(a) Any person who violates this section with respect to any controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony, except that any person other than an inmate of a penal institution as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof who violates this section with respect to a cannabimimetic agent is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
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So, the actual name of the substance is "cannabimimetic agent".  This MEANS that ANY mixture is illegal to possess, not just the mixtures that contain a certain type of substance. 
 
My understanding of research on this drug is that it is 5x more addictive than regular marijuana and it more quickly interacts with the part of the brain that is a receptor for cannibus. 
 
You would think that stores would be getting prosecuted for it, but they really aren't.  The substances are being sold as "incense".  Interestingly, the same stores sell rolling papers, bongs, and other "high life" type paraphernalia.  Selling or distributing this substance, as I said already, is a felony.
 
54.1-3446 of the Virginia Code explains what a cannabimimetic agent is:
 
7. Any substance that contains one or more cannabimimetic agents or that contains their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation, and any preparation, mixture, or substance containing, or mixed or infused with, any detectable amount of one or more cannabimimetic agents.
a. "Cannabimimetic agents" includes any substance that is within any of the following structural classes:
 
 
Again, there is simply no point in taking the risk of ingesting, possessing, or distributing this substance. 
 
There you have it.
 
S. Alexander, Esquire

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