New Tennessee Laws Target Synthetic Drugs

In the first half of 2012, multiple bills criminalizing the manufacture, sale, use and possession of synthetic drugs have become law in Tennessee. Prior to the passage of these new laws, Tennessee only banned specific ingredients used in synthetic drugs. Now, rather than defining the substances by their actual chemical compositions, the new laws attempt to define them by their effects on users.

The new drug crime laws are much broader and encompass many more formulations. Tobacco and convenience stores, which were previously legally selling the substances, now may face felony charges if they continue to sell “bath salts” or other forms of synthetic drugs. These substances have been sold under a variety of brand names.

Names of synthetic marijuana:

    • Spice
  • JH/Kush
  • K2

Names of synthetic cocaine and ecstasy or “bath salts”

  • Cloud 9
  • Ivory Wave
  • White Lightening
  • Molly’s Plant Food

The new laws define a synthetic drug as an “imitation controlled substance” and a “controlled substance analogue,” or a substance that affects the central nervous system in the same way as a controlled substance.

Stiffer Penalties for Selling Synthetic Drugs in Tennessee

Manufacturers and sellers of synthetic drugs may now face up to $5,000 in fines and felony jail time. Businesses found supplying these drugs are now legally considered public nuisances. This may allow law enforcement to close down stores found in violation of the law for 60 days. Additionally, the new laws create misdemeanor offenses for those found possessing or using the drugs.

The state budget that was recently passed included over $300,000 designated for incarcerating individuals found in violation of synthetic drug laws. The amount was based on a projection of over 60 people being incarcerated for synthetic drug offenses annually. Local law enforcement agencies have recently met to determine how best to enforce the new drug laws.

The three bills recently passed are HB 3175, HB 2286 and HB 2645. More information about them can be found on the Tennessee General Assembly webpage.

If you have been charged with manufacturing, selling or possessing synthetic drugs, consider contacting a criminal defense attorney. Particularly in light of the recent law changes, the advice and guidance of experienced criminal defense attorney can be extremely valuable.

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