Minnesota lawmakers consider efforts to criminalize synthetic drugs

Lawmakers in Minnesota this week considered adding synthetic drugs to the state’s list of drug crimes. Synthetic drugs like 2C-E and 2C-1 go by the name of “bath salts” and are amphetamines that are legally obtainable over the internet. Though the drugs are legal they have serious and fatal health consequences. On March 11 young people in Blaine, Minnesota overdosed on 2C-E and one 19-year-old died from an overdose during the same incident.

According to the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy the state has reached a “critical mass” regarding the widespread sale and use of synthetic or designer drugs. In reaction to the widespread use and the tragic mass overdose in Blaine, lawmakers discussed strategies on how to criminalize the designer drugs. Two large problems in trying to regulate and criminalize synthetic drugs are chemistry and the number of the designer drugs that are sold.

Sometimes when a certain drug is criminalized those who concoct the drug can alter the chemical makeup of the original drug sufficiently to create a new drug that is outside of the legal parameters that regulate the original drug. In essence a change in the drug’s chemistry can evade law enforcement. The legal concept lawmakers use to tackle the regulation of drugs that behave similarly but are chemically different are analog drug laws. For instance, the Federal Analog Act says that drugs that are substantially similar to illegal drugs in structure and effects are also illegal. To use an adage, if it quacks like a duck it must be a duck.

The second problem is trying to keep track of the number of synthetic drugs available. One Minnesota lawmaker said keeping count of all the designer drugs on the internet is extremely difficult. In addition, synthetic drugs are not created under the same quality standard as drugs manufactured for consumer consumption so one batch of drugs may not be made under the same circumstances as another batch of the same drug. Therefore one instance of synthetic drug use may not harm the user but the second instance of use may cause a harmful reaction.

Source: Hometownsource.com, “More legislation offered to outlaw the products from ‘bathtub chemists’,” T.W. Budig, 4/12/11

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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