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Synthetic drug laws difficult to enforce

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Amarillo, TX - Synthetic drugs are officially illegal - but enforcing and prosecuting those cases is blazing a new legal trail.

Drugs like K2 and "bath salts" are widely regarded as dangerous chemicals, and legally regarded as controlled substances - but cracking down on synthetics is a bit more complicated, and the legal history of synthetic drug laws reflects that complexity.

Synthetic drugs were first encountered by Customs and Border Patrol in 2008, but they never really took off until 2010.

Then from 2010 to 2011, poison control centers saw twice as many cases related to synthetic marijuana, and more than twenty times more cases related to bath salts.

The influx of emergency calls prompted legislators to issue a temporary ban on the chemicals before amending the Controlled Substances Act to include them.

And because a manufacturer can create virtually limitless chemical variations of the same drug, legislators saw a need to include them in the Federal Analog Act as well.

So now, even though synthetics are treated as any other illegal drug, their incredible chemical complexity makes them extremely difficult to identify.

So when police make an arrest, they may have to wait weeks for lab results, which are sometimes inconclusive, meaning some violators never face trial.

If you'd like to learn more about synthetic drugs and the state and federal laws concerning them, follow the links attached to this story.