Synthetic cannabis or synthetic marijuana is a family of drugs that are intended to mimic the effects of the marijuana plant when smoked or ingested. While it may visually resemble marijuana, it is made with a variety of synthetic chemicals (Typically, synthetic cannabis manufacturers spray these chemicals on a plant base.) It is commonly marketed as “Spice,” “K2,” “herbal incense,” and “potpourri.”

The actual chemical makeup of synthetic marijuana is very inconsistent and can include a number of substances that are dangerous to consume. There are well-documented cases of synthetic cannabis users becoming very ill or suffering dangerous side effects. In 2012, the Federal Government enacted the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, designating most synthetic cannabis compounds as dangerous Schedule I drugs.

What Are the Penalties for Synthetic Cannabis Crimes?

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess, sell, and distribute synthetic cannabis. If you are charged with federal drug charges, you may face significant jail time, large fines, and mandatory minimum sentencing.  And, unlike naturally cultivated marijuana, all 50 states ban some or all forms of synthetic cannabis.

Under state law, you may face felony charges for the sale, distribution, manufacturing, possession, or use of synthetic cannabis. Since the penalties will vary depending on state law and your situation, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer for more information.

Why Is Synthetic Cannabis Illegal?

Synthetic cannabis is highly regulated due to its dangerous nature. Like other synthetic drugs, synthetic cannabis is associated with a number of side effects and adverse reactions. These may include:

  • Anxiety,
  • Changes in mood, thought, and perception,
  • Hallucinations,
  • Paranoia,
  • Seizures and spasms, and
  • Death.

Instances of violent suicide have been linked to synthetic drug use (even in cases involving one-time usage). And, some studies have shown that synthetic drugs are more addictive than stimulants such as methamphetamines.

Unfortunately, many people are attracted to synthetic cannabis due to its low cost, easy availability, and other factors. Consumers should inform authorities of any products being sold that might be used or marketed as synthetic cannabis.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Synthetic Cannabis Charges?

Like most drug charges, synthetic cannabis convictions result in significant penalties, including jail time and large fines. A conviction can also complicate your future employability and housing options. If you are charged with possession, use, or distribution of synthetic cannabis, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you protect your constitutional rights, prevent the best possible defenses, and negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf.