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Synthetic drug makers try to stay a step ahead of authorities

Media outlets in Minnesota and around the country have covered several stories about the proliferation of dangerous synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice. These narcotic compounds are developed by drug makers to circumvent federal or state drug laws, and they are often offered for sale in grocery stores and other retail outlets for short periods. The reason that these drugs are usually pulled off store shelves fairly swiftly is because lawmakers generally act quickly to close legal loopholes and update drug laws.

Legislators generally place drugs into one of several categories. Substances that are consumed in their natural state like marijuana make up one of these categories. Natural compounds that are processed into substances like cocaine or heroin are listed as derivatives, and complex chemical formulas such as methamphetamine are classified as synthetics. The challenge facing lawmakers and law enforcement is keeping up with the latest developments in synthetic drug manufacturing and distribution.

The cat-and-mouse game between drug makers and law enforcement authorities is not good news for the individuals that consume these synthetic compounds. The effects of drugs like bath salts can be severe, and some users have lost their lives or killed others while on violent rampages after taking them. State and federal lawmakers have responded to these issues, and laws banning cathinones and cannabinoids have been enacted in all 50 states.

While ignorance of the law is usually not a viable defense in criminal cases, experienced attorneys could argue that drug charges should be dropped when the substance involved was purchased in a retail store. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may also seek more lenient treatment for their clients by demonstrating their genuine remorse to prosecutors. State and federal prosecutors often work under great pressure, and they may be willing to consider plea agreements even in situations where the evidence at their disposal seems compelling.

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