Monday, April 2, 2012

Florida Governor Bans New Synthetic Drugs by Signing into Law House Bill 1175 on March 23, 2012

Tampa Bay Criminal Attorney and Former State Prosecutor Melinda Morris of the Morris Law Firm discusses how the Florida House Bill signed into law that governs synthetic drugs.

Issue:

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law House Bill 1175 on March 23, which modifies section 893.03(1)(c) of the Florida Statutes by expanding the list of banned hallucinogenic substances in Schedule I of the Florida Comprehensive Abuse Prevention and Control Act.

Specifically, HB 1175 added certain synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants to Schedule I, such as Methyltryptamine, Ethcathinone and Benzylpiperazine. The bill added 91 new synthetic substances to Schedule I.

So many new substances were included in the Florida Comprehensive Abuse Prevention and Control Act because the chemical compounds in these substances are easy to change, which can assist alleged drug-makers, users and sellers in avoiding criminal penalties. For example, a synthetic substance could be illegal under the Florida Comprehensive Abuse Prevention and Control Act, but a slightly different molecular makeup could be legal.



Why This Matters To You:

Since this bill was signed into law, an individual could be charged with a drug crime in St. Petersburg if they allegedly commit a criminal offense with any of the newly added synthetic substances, such as possession with intent to sell or drug possession.

Many of the synthetic substances now included in section 893.03(1)(c) of the Florida Statutes are also commonly known as synthetic marijuana, bath salts, K2, potpourri and incense.

An individual charged with a criminal offense involving any of the newly added substances can possibly face a conviction for a felony of the second degree, felony of the first degree or a misdemeanor of the first degree. For example, drug possession, drug manufacturing, drug delivery and possession with intent to sell substances in Schedule I are generally punishable as a felony of the third degree, which can result in a prison sentence up to five years and/or a fine up to $5,000.

However, HB 1175 reduced the penalties an individual can face if they are convicted of three grams or less of certain types of the newly added synthetic substances in a non-powdered form. An individual charged with possession of certain synthetic cannabinoids could be convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree, instead of a felony of the third degree, which can result in jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $1,000.


What To Do Next:

If you have been charged with a drug related offense throughout Tampa and the surrounding areas, contact a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case. Call the Morris Law Firm at 727-388-4736 to discuss your case directly with an attorney, or fill out our Online Form to be contacted for a free initial consultation. The Morris Law Firm can help. Attorney Melinda Morris has specific knowledge and experience in representing alleged drug and marijuana offenders throughout Pinellas County the entire Tampa Bay, FL area, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Largo, Dunedin and Bradenton.