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Posted on: April 10, 2013

County Attorney Puts Purveyors of Synthetic Drugs on Notice

PHOENIX, AZ (April 10, 2013) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued the following statement today regarding recent legislation banning synthetic drugs:

As of April 3, 2013, synthetic versions of marijuana and of ecstasy/cocaine are banned substances and are defined as dangerous drugs. Accordingly, the possession or use of synthetic cannabinoids or cathinones is now a Class 4 Felony and subject to punishment as provided at A.R.S §§ 13-3407, 13-701, 13-702, and 13-901.01. Due to Proposition 200 requirements for substance abuse treatment, probation with treatment is mandatory for the first two offenses.

Possession for sale of these substances is a Class 3 Felony subject to punishment under A.R.S. §§ 13-3407, 13-701, 13-702, 13-901, and 13-902. The potential prison sentencing range for a first offense is 2 to 8.75 years. Transporting, importing into Arizona, or offering to do the same is a Class 2 Felony subject to the same sentencing statutes with a potential prison sentencing range for a first time offense ranging from 3 to 12.5 years.

For members of the public who have expressed concern at ongoing sales of items label as “Spice” or “Bath Salts” despite previous efforts to ban these substances, the specificity with which the Legislature has now defined dangerous drugs to include specific chemical configurations that compose synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts means that any retail establishment offering these items is currently potentially guilty of a Class 3 Felony. For parents who have expressed their concerns to me over the last several months about their child’s addiction to synthetic drugs and the availability of synthetic drugs in their neighborhoods and have expressed frustration at not being able to do anything, here is what you can do today:

If the corner market or smoke shop or convenience store has these items on the shelf, call local police. These items are unlawful and have no place in legitimate commerce. Anyone selling them is subject to prosecution for a Class 3 Felony and the owner(s) of any such establishment is/are subject to prosecution for a Class 2 Felony.

For retailers and manufacturers of synthetic drugs, you are on notice that Arizona law permits the seizure of these items for subsequent prosecution as well as the potential for the seizure of property and monies deriving from the sale of synthetic drugs, including the stores they are sold out of. Additionally, Arizona law provides the necessary jurisdiction and we have the capability, to reach beyond Arizona’s borders into other states and hold those accountable for the manufacture, transportation, and/or importation of synthetic drugs into Arizona.

I am committed to fighting the availability and use of synthetic drugs in Maricopa County. The harm to individual users and the risks posed to law enforcement as a result of contacts with people under the influence of synthetic drugs supports all lawful efforts to attack this problem. Again, if you encounter a retail store that offers synthetic drugs for sale, call police. If you own or operate a retail establishment that has these items on your store’s shelves, you better take care of the situation immediately.


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