In the last decade, many new designer and synthetic drugs have seen a rise in popularity. Herbal incense, also called K2 or Spice, as well as bath salts, Flakka and Molly have all become sought-after products. Many companies have intentionally mislead consumers to believe these substances are actually legal, unlike the banned substances they mimic. The fact that many of them do not turn up in standard drug tests only worsened this perception.
Additionally, there is an unfortunate belief among consumers that availability for purchase equates to safety. However, as these products are often not tested or standardized, they are inherently dangerous to consumers, who may have no idea what they are really purchasing. Whether you’re a college student looking for spring break fun or an adult who needs to pass a drug test, you need to know synthetic drugs are illegal in Pennsylvania.
Federal law outlaws anything that acts like a banned drug
The Federal government almost seems to have seen the synthetic drug craze coming. Well before any bath salts were available in retail stores, the Federal Analog Act, an addition to the Controlled Substances Act, moved to ban analogues. For those not familiar with the term, an analogue is any compound intended to duplicate the effects of an already banned substance.
Selling herbal incense as a legal replacement for marijuana, for example, would immediately result in its classification as an analogue. To avoid this issue, manufacturers selling synthetic drugs simply labeled their products as “not for human consumption.” This labeling was an attempt to perform an end run around the law prohibiting compounds that mimic the effects of banned drugs.
Pennsylvania takes synthetic drug enforcement seriously
In the summer of 2017, more than 100 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana alone in a three-day period in Lancaster County. While no one died in that particular event, it certainly raised local awareness of the risks involved with synthetic drugs.
Treating overdoses related to synthetic drugs is particularly challenging, as people may not even know the active ingredients in the substance. Sometimes, there is a mix of chemicals, which can prove even more dangerous if alcohol or street drugs are also used. Pennsylvania law has little tolerance for synthetic drugs or analogues. In fact, the state has scheduled and banned multiple known active compounds used for these products.
For those caught in possession or under the influence of banned compounds, or those intended to replicate the effects of scheduled substances, criminal charges could result. People who share these drugs with others, give them to friends, or sell them to classmates or co-workers could face serious criminal charges if caught by law enforcement.