Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 to Crack Down on “Designer Drugs”

by sequoialegal on February 5, 2013

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By Adam Williams, legal editor at the Law Offices of Michael J. Brennan

In recent years, federal and state governments have been increasing prosecutions of those charged with possession and sale of a synthetic chemical that is designed to recreate the effects of certain Schedule I substances. These chemical compounds are designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. Schedule I, in this case, refers to the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 that defined how the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances was regulated. Marijuana and cocaine are both on this list that prescribes its members have no use in medical treatment and a high potential for abuse.

The substances involved in the criminal infractions, which go under a variety of names, are labeled ‘designer’ drugs because of their synthetic nature. However because of the specificity of the chemical compounds and the inexpensive cost in manufacture, they are available for purchase throughout the country at convenience stores, herbal remedy shops, and gas stations.

Recently, the synthetic drugs called “herbal incense” and “bath salts” have become the target of state and federal legislators. Herbal incense, which can also be purchased under the brand names Spice and K2 along with other variations, try to mimic the effects of THC which are found in marijuana. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is the active ingredient in marijuana. Bath salts, in the same manner, mimic the effects of the alkaloid found in the coca plant from which cocaine is derived. Both of these products and their retail distribution packages are marketed as “not for human consumption”, while clearly advertising the side effects one would have if they attempted to consume the product.

The production of both of these types of drugs are very detailed and specific. For this reason legislators at state and federal levels have had difficulty curbing the sale of these compounds designed to mimics other drugs. It has been the case where a law will be passed and enacted banning the sale of one compound, only to have a slight change to the chemical makeup to have the an almost identical product in stores legally in a very short period of time. This cat and mouse game continues as a new version may be outlawed and a new one is introduced.

At the federal level, President Obama has signed the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 on July 9, 2012, which officially lists the compounds most commonly used in synthetic marijuana and cocaine as Schedule I drugs. In addition, there is also a federal ban on online sales of the compounds aimed at further limiting access to states where the substances are banned.

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