The State of Rhode Island has enacted a new law which provides for strict penalties for the criminal charge of possession of certain quantities of a class of substances known as synthetic drugs. This law greatly expands the 2013 law which had placed synthetic drugs (both synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones) on the highly regulated Schedule I drug list in addition to banning the manufacture, sale and use of these drugs in the State of Rhode Island. Prior to this law, synthetic drugs were legally marketed and sold in Rhode Island under the names of "bath salts", "synthetic pot" and "herbal incense".
Under the recently enacted law, the penalties for the manufacture, sale or possession are as follows:
- one ounce to one kilogram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of synthetic drug is punishable by imprisionment of up to 50 years and a fine of up to $500,000
- more than one kilogram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of synthetic drug is punishable by imprisonment up to life and a fine of up to $1,000,000
The criminal prosecution of this law will require the police and law enforcement authorities to obtain special training in the area of synthetic drugs and will require the testing of the substance by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The test conducted by the Rhode Island Department of Health will determine whether the suspected substance is considered one of the illegal synthetic substances and critical in determining if the prosecution is warranted.
Defense of a charge of the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic drugs will greatly hinge on such issues as the manner in which the evidence of synthetic drugs was obtained by the police, the propriety of the administration of the test of the substance and the accuracy of the test.
If you or a loved one have been charged with the manufacture, sale or possession of synthetic drugs, be sure to call an experienced criminal defense attorney who can successfully challenge the prosecution's evidence. The lawyer should be able to clearly explain the charges to you an set forth a well planned legal defense to the charge.