Actions surrounding the purchase and use of synthetic drugs in Minnesota are considered drug crimes. Despite the illegal classification of synthetic drugs in the state, the purchase of synthetic drugs continues through black market websites. The dramatic rise in online drug dealing has made it tougher for law enforcement to enforce applicable drug crime laws to synthetic drugs.
Over the last two years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of sources that supply synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs are sold under names like bath salts, herbal incense, research chemicals and plant food, but the drugs are varying chemically derived versions of marijuana, ecstasy and hallucinogens. The rise in sources for synthetic drugs is due to the rise of illicit drug dealing completed online.
Today there are around 86 online drug dealing websites but two years ago there were only 22 sites. The web traffic to online drug dealing sites has also increased. According to a web research firm, the number of unique visitors to such sites rose from just over 122,000 in June 2009 to over 400,000 in June 2011.
Two months ago, the state of Minnesota began to enforce drug crime laws related to synthetic drugs. Despite the recent enforcement of the laws, the growth of synthetic drug dealing online has increased. The number of online sites that sell synthetic drugs and the nature of the online transactions have contributed to the difficulty in law enforcement. In addition, when certain chemicals are banned by federal and state authorities, producers use other chemicals that create similar effects.
Source: Star Tribune, “Synthetic drug sales booming on Web,” Larry Oakes, Sept. 11, 2011