Illinois Seeks to Strengthen Synthetic Drug Laws

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Drug Possession on Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The use of synthetic drugs – substances that may have the same effects on the body as drugs like marijuana and cocaine – is on the rise. Part of the reason for the popularity of synthetic drugs is that they are easy to obtain since they are legal products that have legitimate household uses. Some legal products used as synthetic drugs include bath salts, potpourri and incense. However, a new bill seeks to redefine these otherwise legal products as illegal drugs in Illinois.

Reasons Given by the State for the New Law

According to a statement by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, “Drug makers’ continued attempts to sell synthetic drugs jeopardize the lives of teens and young adults.” When referring to SB5233, she continued, “This bill recognizes that chemicals sold to be taken as drugs, regardless of what they’re called or their bogus labeling, are life threatening and illegal.”

The bill, which was recently passed by the Illinois House, will stiffen penalties for those who sell and possess these substances. If it becomes law, it would:

  • make the distribution, and possession with intent to distribute, of a synthetic drug – or a drug with a misleading label – a Class 2 felony for the first offense and a Class 1 felony for subsequent violations
  • make deceptive advertising for a synthetic drug a Class 3 felony
  • include synthetic drug products in the definition of drugs under the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act
  • make pentedrone – a substance that mimics the effects of cocaine and is found in the synthetic drugs marketed as bath salts – a Schedule 1 controlled substance

Lawmakers say that this legislation is necessary because the makers of synthetic drugs are always one step ahead of the current laws, and by simply altering the chemical makeup of their products, they are able to sell the drugs legally. However, what lawmakers fail to address are those Illinois residents that buy these currently legal products for their intended uses – for example, those who actually use the bath salts for a bath and not getting high. Lawmakers need to balance their zealous attempts to snuff out drug abuse with the freedoms of private citizens.