Over the course of the past several years, some very unusual drugs and compounds have emerged on the recreational drug market. Many of these products are marketed as being suitable for one purpose, such as bath salts or perfumed incense, but the recreational drug user can inhale or otherwise consume the drug and experience a mind-altering event. These substances are generally rumored to be “synthetic drugs” that are capable of creating experiences in the user similar to those caused by well known drugs such as Marijuana, Ecstasy (MDMA) or Methamphetamines. The substances are frequently professionally sealed and packaged and sold in over-the-counter environments such as convenience stores and “head shops.” They are sometimes accompanied by laboratory reports or legal letters purporting to verify their legality.
Many purchasers of these substances do not realize that Texas law prohibits the possession of many unusual chemical compounds beyond items such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana that we typically consider as narcotics. The provision of the Texas Health and Safety Code that bans many of these items is commonly referred to as the Texas Controlled Substances “Analog Act” because it bans certain enumerated controlled substances as well as “any quantity of a synthetic chemical compound that is a cannabinoid receptor agonist and mimics the pharmacological effect of naturally occurring cannabinoids…” The enumerated chemical compounds carry odd identifiers such as “AM-2201”, “JWH-004”, “JWH-386” and other otherwise unintelligible acronyms. [A comprehensive list of these banned substances is contained in the Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 481.1031 under its description of Penalty Group 2-A substances.] Testing of Kush, bath salts and other similar products has often revealed that the substances are dusted with some of these banned compounds rendering them illegal to possess or sell.
If you are charged with the possession, distribution or sale of any of these drugs, contact The Downey Law Firm immediately. Our experience in defending these cases has revealed that our clients are frequently wholly unaware of the illegality of the substances they possessed. In some circumstances, their lack of knowledge may be a defense to the crime. At the very least, their lack of knowledge will figure prominently in any efforts aimed at lessening the severity of any punishment. Our criminal defense attorneys always demand a forensic laboratory analysis of all of any analog substance. Our experience has been that forensic laboratory analysis may well reveal that the product in question did not contain any of the banned substances.
We are also evaluating whether the statute that criminalizes these “analog substances” is constitutionally illegal because its wording is too general to notify the public about what constitutes an illegal substance. The Texas statute banning synthetic marijuana products appears to be derived from a similarly worded federal statute that is the present focus of constitutional challenges.
Please feel free to contact Houston defense attorney Christopher Downey to discuss this matter in more detail.