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Is synthetic marijuana illegal in Wisconsin?

Until 2011, Wisconsin residents could buy substances identified and sold as incense, bath salts and other seemingly benign products that, when used improperly, could produce highs similar to illegal drugs. The chemically-laced products can cause dangerous aftereffects common to marijuana, amphetamines and hallucinogens.

Act 31 of the Wisconsin Uniform Controlled Substances Act banned the manufacture, distribution, possession and sale of specific chemical compounds and similar substances called analogs. Analogs were included to stop synthetic drug manufacturers from slightly altering chemical combinations to skirt the law. The man-made chemicals were classified as Schedule I controlled substances, assuming the same status as drugs they intended to mimic.

State lawmakers also permitted municipalities to expand upon Act 31 with ordinances of their own, allowing authorities to seize defendants' assets for first-time K2, Spice or other synthetic drug possession offenses. For instance, West Milwaukee's local law includes provisions making synthetic marijuana displays, sales, attempted purchases, gifting or trading a crime.

Also illegal in Wisconsin: stimulant-related cathinones with "meph" or "meth" prefixes, frequently marketed as Vanilla Sky or Ivory Wave bath salts and hallucinogenic 2C-I. As with synthetic cannabinoids, analogs of these substances were banned to discourage trafficking of slightly different synthetic chemical combinations.

Thinly-disguised synthetic drugs were pulled from the shelves of retail outlets across the state in 2011. However, the products remain widely available online, often through overseas websites. Unfortunately, Milwaukee consumers may be unaware some innocent Internet purchases violate local, state and federal drug laws.

An individual accused of drug crimes can suffer serious consequences even without a conviction. Criminal defense attorneys understand the long-term effects drug-related allegations can have on a defendant's reputation, family relationships and employment.

Defense lawyers can investigate possible civil rights' violations by police during an arrest or search and seizure. Attorneys also work to have unsubstantiated charges dropped and when necessary, help defendants negotiate plea agreements to minimize penalties.

Source: Wisconsin Department of Justice, "New Law Should Stop Sales of Synthetic Drugs in Wisconsin Communities," accessed July 22, 2015

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