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Part 2: States try 'catch-all' law to address synthetic drugs

In the previous post we discussed some of the growing concern surrounding the manufacturing and distribution of synthetic drugs. Though many states have made it a drug offense, officials are finding it difficult to keep up with the manufacturers of synthetic drugs.

Even so, law enforcement has been working to arrest and charge people with drug crimes. In fact, earlier this month two Wisconsin men were charged with conspiracy to make and distribute a synthetic compound thought to mimic the effects of marijuana.

Police are relying on sting operations and raids to confiscate and synthetic drugs chemicals as well as arrest those in connection with the manufacturing. At this point, officials estimate that there have been approximately 200 arrests this year.

But given the ever-changing chemical make-up of these synthetic drugs, prosecutors are having trouble proving that certain products are actually illegal. As we saw in the previous post, there are thousands of chemicals that can be used to create the drugs. And since legislation can take years to pass, laws fall behind.

Some states have taken the approach of creating a "catch-all" law. Essentially this type of law aims to ban any type of substance that affects people in the same way that illegal drugs do. However the issue is that these laws can be overly broad and vague. In addition prosecutors find it more difficult to actually win these types of cases because of the scientific testing required to prove the effects of specific chemicals.

In any case, someone who finds themselves charged with a crime related to synthetic drugs should take steps to protect his or her rights and future. Criminal charges can have a serious impact on one's life.

Source: Star Tribune, "Cops just can't keep up with latest designer-drug threats," Nov. 21, 2011

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