Legislators in North Carolina are considering a new law that would increase the penalties associated with certain drug crimes. The law specifically addresses synthetic cannabinoid and cathinone compounds. These drugs go by street names like bath salts, Spice and K2.

North Carolina is not alone in its move to push for reform. States across the country are cracking down on synthetic drug violations.

One likely reason for this crackdown is an explosion in the use of certain bath salts. Use of these drugs has resulted in serious health side effects including heart attacks and bouts of extreme violent behavior. A man in Florida is currently in serious condition after using the substance, known as flakka. While on the drug, the man, who has no prior criminal history, is accused of murdering a married couple in a mad rage triggered by the drug.

What is flakka?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that flakka is a type of synthetic cathinone. These drugs, referred to as bath salts, are synthetic, human made substances designed to mimic the effect of illegal drugs.

Flakka generally has the appearance of a white or pink crystal powder with a foul smell. Other bath salts generally have a similar appearance, though are most often white or brown in color and packaged in a small bit of foil or plastic with “not for human consumption” labels. Other common names for bath salts include Gravel, Cloud Nine, Vanilla Sky, Bloom and White Lightening.

Bath salts are generally used through snorting, smoking or consuming. Use can result in lowered inhibitions and increased energy. Other effects include anxiety, depression and paranoia as well as extreme agitation and violent behavior.

Will North Carolina’s proposal become law?

The media story noted above and others like it will likely result in a push for increased criminal penalties related to use of these illegal substances. Lawmakers may feel pressure to vote in favor of such measures, potentially increasing the likelihood that this proposal would become law in the near future.

The proposal currently under consideration is designed to ease the ability for the state to classify synthetic drugs like flakka as a Schedule I controlled substance. This would be done by expanding the list of compounds that would aid in this classification. The proposal currently resides with the Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

What is current law in North Carolina for Schedule I controlled substances?

It is currently illegal to sell, deliver, manufacture or possess controlled substances in the state. Violation of state law can result in criminal charges. A conviction can lead to prison time.

Defenses are available. Those who are accused of drug crimes in North Carolina should take the charges seriously. Contact an experienced drug charge defense lawyer to discuss your options. Depending on the details of your case, defenses may be available to reduce or even dismiss the charges against you.