Minnesota lawmakers discuss new laws for synthetic drugs

A Minnesota lawmaker is calling for a more clear definition of Minnesota’s driving while impaired laws in relation to synthetic drugs. Authorities met at the Capitol in St. Paul Wednesday to discuss non-traditional substances, commonly referred to as synthetic drugs and bath salts. A hearing was held in a House subcommittee to discuss substances under Minnesota DWI and drug laws.

Topics included stiffer penalties for selling products that may be classified as synthetic drugs. Authorities wish to see penalties for convictions be raised and laws changed to raise alleged drug offenses involving the substances to felony level crimes in Minnesota. Some lawmakers are also considering addressing synthetics more clearly under Minnesota’s already strict DWI laws. However, this blog reported a story last summer about a man accused of driving under the influence of bath salts in Minnesota.

Synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as “bath salts,” are commonly known as such terms as “white lightening,” “vanilla sky” and “cloud nine” in relation to synthesized cocaine-like substances. A Minnesota Representative from Shafer says bath salts are often “called cocaine on steroids.” Synthetics may also be known as “spice” and “K2,” relating to fake marijuana, to name just a couple.

Lawmakers are proposing not only stiffer penalties for so-called synthetic drugs, but clearer definition in state law, including DWI laws, to further control the substances. The proposed ideas would include granting the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy more authority in classifying synthetic substances.

The list of controlled substances in Minnesota’s drug laws have schedules of controlled substances that also are woven into Minnesota’s DWI statute. The proposal would place chemical categories on a crime-lab watchlist.

If a new chemical category is identified by the crime lab, then the Board of Pharmacy would have the authority to make the category illegal under the schedules of controlled substances in Minnesota, without further legislative approval, according to the proposed ideas in the legislature.

Source: Fox 21, “Duluth Police Ask St. Paul for Tighter Synthetic Laws,” May 1, 2012

He has won jury trial cases in misdemeanor and felony cases and in DWI’s and non-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. He is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

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