By Linda Kor
A new law went into effect this month making all synthetic versions of marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine banned substances defined as dangerous drugs under state law.
Accordingly, individuals found possessing or using such substances and subsequently convicted will be placed on mandatory probation and entered into a substance abuse program for the first two offenses.
If convicted of possessing these dangerous substances for sale, an individual could face from two years to nearly nine years in prison for the first offense. Transporting, importing into Arizona or offering to do the same could mean three to 12 years in prison.
“For members of the public who have expressed concern at the ongoing sale of items labeled as ‘Spice’ or ‘Bath Salts’ despite previous efforts to ban these substances, the specificity with which the legislature has now defined dangerous drugs to include specific chemical configurations that compose synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts means that any retail establishment offering these items is currently potentially guilty of a Class 3 Felony,” stated Navajo County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jim Molesa.
“For parents who have expressed their concerns to me over the last several months about their child’s addiction to synthetic drugs and the availability of synthetic drugs in their neighborhoods, and who have expressed frustration at not being able to do anything, here is what you can do today,” Molesa continued. He asks that they, as well as the rest of the public, report to law enforcement any corner market, smoke shop or convenience store that has these items on the shelf.
“These items are unlawful and have no place in legitimate commerce,” he said. Anyone selling them is subject to prosecution for a Class 3 felony and the owners of any such establishment would be subject to prosecution for a Class 2 felony.
Molesa noted that the new law puts retailers and manufacturers of synthetic drugs “on notice” that Arizona law now permits the seizure of these items for subsequent prosecution, as well as the potential for the seizure of property and monies deriving from the sale of synthetic drugs, including the stores in which they are sold. “The law provides the necessary jurisdiction and we have the capability to reach beyond Arizona’s borders into other states and hold those accountable for the manufacture, transportation, and/or importation of synthetic drugs into Arizona,” he stated.
According to Molesa, Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon and Sheriff K.C. Clark, as well as law enforcement agencies throughout the county, are committed to fighting the availability and use of synthetic drugs. The harm to individual users and the risks posed to law enforcement as a result of contacts with people under the influence of synthetic drugs supports all lawful efforts to attack this problem. Molesa, a former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, wants the public to know that local law enforcement will take all matters related to the possession, sale of manufacture of synthetic drugs seriously.
By Linda Kor