New Drug Crimes

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The legislature has passed, and the Governor has signed, new S.L. 2011-12, which creates three new Schedule I drugs, defines certain synthetic cannabinoids as Schedule VI drugs, and makes several other changes to the drug statutes. (The federal government had already taken action on synthetic cannabinoids, as discussed here.) The law is effective July June 1, earlier than the December 1 effective date that the General Assembly typically uses. The following is adapted from John Rubin’s summary of the law:

Generally. Effective for offenses committed on or after July June 1, 2011, the act adds four substances to the controlled substance schedules and creates new controlled substance offenses based on those substances, including trafficking offenses for three of the drugs.

Additional controlled substances. Amended G.S. 90-89(5) includes three new substances as Schedule I controlled substances, which generally carry the most serious criminal penalties: 4-methylmethcathinone (also known as mephedrone): 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (also known as MDPV); and a compound, other than buproprion, that is structurally derived from 2-amino-1-phenyl-1-propanone by modification in one of several specified ways. Amended G.S. 90-94 adds synthetic cannabinoids (as defined in new subsection (3) of G.S. 90-94) as a Schedule VI controlled substance.

New controlled substance offenses. Possession of any Schedule I controlled substance, including the above-described controlled substances, remains a Class I felony under G.S. 90-95(a)(3) and 90-95(d)(1), except that possession of one gram or less of MDPV is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possession of synthetic cannabinoids or any mixture containing that substance are classified as follows under G.S. 90-95(a)(3) and 90-95(d)(4): a Class 3 misdemeanor for seven grams or less; a Class 1 misdemeanor for more than seven and up to 21 grams or less; and a Class I felony for more than 21 grams. Manufacture, sale, or delivery of synthetic cannabinoids, or possession with intent to do so, is a Class H felony (Class I if a sale) under G.S. 90-95(a)(1) and 90-95(b)(3), except the transfer of less than 2.5 grams of that substance or any mixture containing that substance for no remuneration does not constitute delivery. The threshold quantities for synthetic cannabinoids are approximately half the threshold quantities for marijuana, perhaps reflecting a legislative determination that synthetic cannabinoids are more potent.

New trafficking offenses. New G.S. 90-95(h)(3d) creates the offense of trafficking in MDPV, new G.S. 90-95(h)(3e) creates the offense of trafficking in mephedrone, and new G.S. 90-95(h)(1a) creates the offense of trafficking in synthetic cannabinoids, all classified and punishable as indicated in the new statutes.

I don’t have any special expertise regarding synthetic cannabinoids, but I wonder if the statutes will be able to keep up with the science. A commenter on the High Times website claims that “there are over one hundred synthetic cannabinoids, and DEA only banned five of them.” And an NPR article suggests that “it seems likely that some manufacturers will try to adapt their formulas so they include cannabinoid chemicals other than [those banned by the federal government].” If that’s correct, the situation may become reminiscent of the game of cat-and-mouse between the General Assembly and the manufacturers of electronic sweepstakes machines and software.

10 comments on “New Drug Crimes

  1. You can call any chemical you want “illegal” but the chemists will just come up with other chemicals that are related to but different than the “illegal” chemicals. You can’t win, we’re two steps ahead of you. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY boboberg@nyc.rr.com

  2. It really seems like the government is fighting a losing battle here. It would take a tremendous amount of time and money to try and stay on top of all the synthetic cannabinoids. It just appears that the more you ban, the more research and innovation which goes into creating something else. At some point it seems like it isn’t worth the expense to fight it.

  3. I was under the impression this legislation came into effect on April 1st. Was I misinformed, or is it this article that is incorrect?

  4. And I’m also VERY curious at to why MDPV alone has the clause that less than one gram shall be punished as a misdemeanor. My research has lead me to believe it is actually more harmful than the other recently schedule chemicals.

  5. What are the slang terms for MDPV and Mephedrone? What is the difference in the two? How can law enforcement know what the substance is when they come across it?

    • MDPV is typically referred and sold as a “bath salt”; and Mephedrone as “plant food”. Although some “bath salts” may contain both it seems. Check http://www.erowid.org for more information on slang, etc. I don’t know if there is a drug kit for either right now, not really my concern anymore. As with many substances it will be virtually impossible to tell. Both are typically in white, or as they oxidize tan, yellowish fine powders. If the officer is adept at drug recognition, or has a really honest druggie they may be able to get a clue. These are stimulant drugs, so the user should appear (if impaired) like a cocaine, meth, and/or MDMA high. Without more information that fine white powder could be tested to see if it is GHB, cocaine, powdered opiates, or a BC powder. Good luck.

      This reminds me of the difficulty searching a house for liquid GHB…which can be put into any container, colored with food coloring, and even passed off as frozen ice cubes or blue window cleaner. Officers by and large do NOT get enough training on the recognition of impairment, or the constantly emerging drug trends.

  6. what is the list of chemicals derived from 2-amino-1-phenyl-1-propanone that would apply to the new state law? there seems to be a very grey area now.

  7. my best friend is a class H felon 6 yrs ago and for some reason his record will not show up in the public offender search or instant check mate records I want to no what is going on did they make changes to the NC law or is he blessed and god removed his criminal record help please ?

  8. Some one i know has been charged woth possession of herion 90-95 (d) (1).. will he serve time. Just trying to prepare his mother

  9. What if the officer wrote out the incorrect name of the offense, that suspect was charged with?

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