As reported in the Los Angeles Times, two men from Orange County were arrested Friday on a 16 count grand jury indictment for distributing synthetic “designer” drugs, specifically spice and bath salts. The two are charged under the federal Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act (“CSAEA”), which is a special section of the United States code prohibiting the manufacture or distribution of substances that are “substantially similar” to narcotics prohibited under other federal laws, usually under Title 21 of the United States Code. Yes, I know that up until recently anyone could buy spice or bath salts at a gas station or a smoke shop, but those days are over.
According to Courthouse News Service quoting the United States Attorney’s Office, reports that “first federal indictment in Southern California under the Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act.” This comes as somewhat of a surprise as the CSAEA has been on the books since 1986. However, synthetic narcotics, specifically synthetic cannabinoids like spice and bath salts are a high priority for law enforcement these days. This is especially true of larger operations, and the government is alleging that this arrest is a large operation: The LA times reports that this was a $12 million operation.
Another factor in the increased prioritizing spice and bath salts enforcements over the past few years came from the widely reported stories of users suffering severe adverse effects from these substances. It is believed that spice and bath salts can cause severe cardiac problems as well as severe mental health issues such as psychosis and mania. In July 2012, President Obama signed a bill which added MDPV, Mephedrone 4 (aka 4-MMC), and Methylone (M1), which are the active ingredients in spice and bath salts, to the list of banned substances under federal law.
At the state level, in 2011 California enacted Health and Safety Code 11375.5 which makes it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute substances which contained most of the active compounds in bath salts and spice. However, this is a far less serious consequence than the federal violations which could lead to mandatory minimum sentences of five or even ten years in federal prison. In the federal indictment here in southern California, one of the defendants is reportedly facing life in prison due to his criminal history.
The bottom line is this: The laws surrounding spice, bath salts and other synthetic drugs is rapidly closing, if not closed. If you or a loved one are facing state or federal charges regarding, bath salts, spice or other synthetic drug, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney attorney immediately. You can reach The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or via the secure contact form on this page.