30 Indicted in North Carolina Synthetic Drugs Bust

In 2011, the North Carolina legislature banned the sale, manufacture and possession of a number of synthetic drugs, including those that mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. These drugs have been sold under many names, including "K2," "spice," "herbal incense" and "bath salts."

However, the fact that these drugs were banned has not deterred some people from selling them anyway. In late June 2013, 30 people in North Carolina were charged as a result of a joint local, state and federal inquiry into claims that several head shops were continuing to sell the prohibited substances.

The investigation focused on shops in Buncombe, Henderson, Mecklenburg, Mitchell and Transylvania Counties. Members of the group are accused of manufacturing synthetic drugs, storing them at warehouses in the Charlotte area and distributing them to local head shops.

The indictments were of a larger anti-synthetic drug campaign called Project Synergy. According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney in North Carolina, more than 75 people have been arrested in connection with this campaign. The investigation started after police were made aware of an overdose linked to synthetic marijuana sold at a Wilkesboro head shop.

North Carolina Synthetic Drugs Penalties

Under North Carolina law, anyone caught with more than 150 grams of synthetic marijuana can be charged with a felony. The possession, sale, delivery or manufacture of between 150 and 750 grams of synthetic marijuana is punishable by between 25 and 30 months in prison and a minimum $5,000 fine.

The penalties for crimes involving "bath salts" and related drugs are even stricter. Offenses involving 28 grams or more of these substances are felonies punishable by between 70 and 84 months in prison and a minimum $50,000 fine.

Synthetic drugs are also illegal under federal law, meaning that individuals charged with these crimes could also face federal penalties.

In addition, the North Carolina Legislature recently strengthened the penalties applicable to users are purchasers of synthetic marijuana. The 2011 ban focused on the manufacture and distribution of these drugs but did not address possession or the sale of small amounts.

Working With an Experienced Attorney

Many people end up getting involved with synthetic drugs because they mistakenly believe that the substances are safer - both medically and legally - than their non-synthetic counterparts. This isn't true. Synthetic drugs can lead to a number of health problems. Moreover, as these indictments show, being involved in a synthetic drug offense can carry serious criminal penalties.

If you have been charged or arrested in connection with a synthetic drugs crime talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights and your future.