On April 20, 2011, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced a ban on five chemical substances commonly found in synthetic marijuana products like K2, Spice and Genie. The ban became effective on April 22, 2011, and anyone caught possessing any of the substances could now face drug charges, fines and jail time.
Five chemicals that create effects similar to THC, the high-causing chemical in marijuana, are often sprayed on herbs and sold as incense in gas stations and smoke shops. But, they are rarely used as incense and instead are ingested to replicate the effects of marijuana. These synthetic marijuana products’ popularity has grown exponentially, increasing business at smoke shops and eventually catching the attention of law enforcement agencies.
The federal Drug Enforcement Administration banned five chemical varieties found in synthetic marijuana products in November 2010. Under state law, the Texas Department of State Health Services is required to consider banning any substance the DEA has banned, and the DSHS decided to follow suit. The banned chemicals are JWH-018; JWH-073; JWH-200; CP-47,497; and cannabicyclohexanol.
The DSHS placed these chemicals on Schedule I of the Texas Schedule of Controlled Substances, which also lists marijuana, cocaine and heroin. It is illegal to possess, sell, distribute or manufacture Schedule I substances in Texas.
Possession of a synthetic marijuana product with one of the five banned chemicals is a Class B misdemeanor, and a conviction could result in jail time of up to 180 days and a fine of up to $2,000. If convicted of selling one of the forbidden chemicals – a Class A misdemeanor – a person could be sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
The military has made possession of these substances a court-martial offense, and both the U.S. and Texas legislatures are considering bills that would increase the number of banned chemicals as well as the penalties for possession or sale of them.
If you have been caught with a synthetic marijuana product or face drug charges over these chemicals, promptly contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.