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Synthetic drug crimes easier to prosecute in FL starting in July

Drug offenses are taken very seriously by federal and state lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. They will typically utilize every tool at their disposal to pursue charges of selling and/or manufacturing illicit drugs.

This just got easier thanks to changes that will be made to Florida laws. The new legislation, which goes into effect in July, changes how illegal drugs are defined in this state. Beginning in a few months, possession of drugs that are "substantially similar" to those identified as illegal can be grounds for arrest and prosecution.

What this means is a drug can still be considered illegal, even if there are slight changes in its molecular structure. Previously, these chemical alterations made it a different drug that required legal action to add that specific substance to the list of already-illegal drugs. Unless and until an order is signed, the drug itself was not considered unlawful.

The changes were reportedly prompted by concerns of increasing overdoses involving synthetic drugs. Last year, at least 269 people in this state alone were treated in the hospital for overdosing on synthetic cannabinoids. Authorities argue that chemically altering a drug to make it different from other drugs ultimately put users in serious danger.

However, the new law also effectively cuts out work for prosecutors, making it faster and easier for them to arrest and charge a person for a drug crime. No longer will they be required to have the "pharmacological effects" of a drug confirmed before deeming it unlawful.

What we hope readers take away from this blog post is an understanding of the many ways in which prosecutors and law enforcement agents can gain the upper hand when it comes to pursuing conviction of a drug crime. Whether it's legislative changes like this, federal grants or being more familiar with laws and proper procedures, there are numerous aspects that give an advantage to those you will face if you are charged with a crime.

In order to level the playing field, it can be crucial that you have on your side an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: The Tampa Tribune, "Florida tightening laws to keep up wit hsynthetic drug manufacturers," Elaine Silvestrini, April 17, 2016

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