Sale and Use of Synthetic Drugs Banned by New Law in Pennsylvania

Legislation banning the sale and use of many synthetic drugs popular today was recently enacted into Pennsylvania law. Governor Tom Corbett signed the legislation in late June of this year, after the General Assembly unanimously approved it. Proponents of the legislation claim it can save lives by limiting access to these readily available designer drugs. The law, which takes effect 60 days from its signing, lists the types of prohibited synthetic drugs and outlines penalties for both delivery, or intent to deliver, and possession of these substances.

Rise in Synthetic Drug Sale and Use

According to Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico, Pennsylvania law enforcement officials across the state have reported an increase in violent synthetic drug crimes where users assaulted others. This prompted county and other municipalities to issue injunctions to local merchants prohibiting the sale of certain synthetic drugs like bath salts, synthetic marijuana and salvia divinorum, an herb mixture with hallucinogenic affects. The death of a Minnesota teen in March from a 2C-E overdose was also a key reason to ban these drugs.

Law Banning Synthetic Drugs

Both the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Governor acted swiftly to enact the ban on synthetic drugs to offset how quickly these designer drugs can escalate in both sale and use. The original bill was introduced in April of this year and promptly passed by both the House and Senate in May. It was amended in late May to add 2C-E, a drug similar to LSD, and re-passed by the General Assembly in June. By the time the Governor signed the bill into law in late June, it had only spent approximately two months under consideration.

The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act was amended to include all synthetic cannabinoids and any substance containing a mixture of certain chemicals known to be used in synthetic drugs or bath salts like salvia divinorum, methylone, mephedrone or 2C-E and other related psychedelic phenethylamines. The penalties for a first offense for delivery of or intent to deliver synthetic drugs are up to five years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine. Possession penalties are up to one year imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

Defense of Drug Crimes

Prior to the legislative ban on synthetic substances, these designer drugs were readily available for purchase, and legally sold by merchants, in local tobacco shops and convenience stores. In addition, since users were not previously punished for possession, using synthetic drugs seemed acceptable. Pennsylvania's new law prohibiting synthetic drugs has changed the climate for both sellers and users, creating consequences for those who choose to continue the sale or use of synthetic substances after the law takes effect.

If you are arrested for or charged with any drug crime, including the new crimes for delivering, intending to deliver or possessing synthetic drugs, you need a Pennsylvania drug crimes defense attorney in your corner immediately. A criminal lawyer experienced in defending drug crimes can help you better navigate the criminal justice system and may be able to get your charges and related penalties dismissed or reduced.