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Synthetic Cannabis: Still a Schedule I Drug

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on February 24, 2021

Cannabis, more commonly known as weed, has been legal for recreational use in California since 2016. For those over the age of 21, it is perfectly legal to use the drug, whether that means smoking it or consuming it. However, synthetic cannabis is still illegal. In fact, it is considered a Schedule I drug, meaning the penalties for using it are incredibly harsh.

What Is Synthetic Cannabis?

Cannabis is a plant. When dried and smoked or otherwise consumed, it creates mind-altering effects, not unlike being intoxicated from alcohol. While the history of weed in the United States has been a turbulent one, over time, people have mostly come to believe that weed, when taken in safe amounts, is mostly harmless to the human body and mind. However, the same cannot be said for synthetic cannabis.

The term “synthetic cannabis” may make you assume that it is a human-made version of weed. While not completely off from the truth, it is still an incorrect statement. This man-made drug can be sprayed or dusted on to plants for smoking or be made into vapors or liquids for consummation via e-cigarettes. This makes it as easy to consume as cannabis.

The mind-altering effects are also similar to cannabis, which is why it shares a name with the plant. However, these drugs are actually far more powerful than normal weed and can even be life-threatening in some cases. Synthetic cannabis is part of a newer group of drugs called new psychoactive substances (NPS). When taken, synthetic cannabis binds to the same receptors in the brain that typical cannabis does; however, the effects produced are far stronger and far more dangerous. It can cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, sudden violent outbursts, vomiting, and even suicidal thoughts. Worst of all, it is also highly addictive, driving users to take it again and again. Needless to say, this drug is highly illegal for a reason.

The Legality of Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic cannabis, as with all other NPS drugs, is classified as a Schedule I drug. All drugs deemed potentially dangerous are placed on a federal classification scale. Schedule V is the least dangerous, and thus the least controlled, whereas Schedule I is the more dangerous, least medically beneficial, and the most controlled. Schedule I drugs are considered highly addictive and life-threatening. They are rarely, if ever, used in a medical context, and getting some will require an illegal purchase.

As synthetic cannabis is a Schedule I drug, using it or selling it can result in serious penalties that could have an impact on your life. Penalties for possession or sale can include:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

That being said, the more of the drug that is found on you, the harsher the penalties will be. For copious amounts of synthetic cannabis, you could be facing several years behind bars. Alternately, if you sell even a small amount to a minor, then you could be charged with a felony, meaning at least a year in prison and a loss of rights upon your release.

What to Do After an Arrest

If you have been arrested for selling or possessing synthetic cannabis, then you could be facing a felony conviction and years behind bars. You may be feeling confused, as cannabis is legal in California, and the similar names may have led you to believe that synthetic cannabis was also legal.

We at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP understand your confusion and your worry. We encourage you to call our office at (213) 688-0460 and tell one of our top Los Angeles drug crime defense attorneys about your case. We may be able to help you get the outcome you need.

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Posted in: Criminal Defense