The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, signed into law in July, added 15 synthetic cannabinoids - synthetic marijuana or 'Spice" - and 11 synthetic cathinones - 'bath salts' - to the list of federal Schedule I Controlled Substances. Existing Schedule I Controlled Substances include marijuana, LSD, peyote and ecstasy. The use, possession or distribution of these controlled substances can result in federal drug charges.
A conviction on a federal drug charge can have serious consequences, including lengthy prison terms and fines. Mandatory minimum sentences may also apply, dictating the number of months that a person must be sentenced to if convicted of federal drug charges.
Synthetic cannabinoids are illegal drugs manufactured to mimic the active ingredient in marijuana, THC and have street names such as K2, Spice, Kush or Genie. Synthetic or substituted cathinones are typically called bath salts and are similar in effect to amphetamines.
North Carolina already outlawed the use, possession and distribution of synthetic marijuana, synthetic incense and bath salts in 2011. Similar to the federal law, North Carolina also designated the drugs as Schedule I Controlled Substances.
Selling, delivering or manufacturing between 150 to 750 grams of synthetic marijuana is a felony drug offense in North Carolina. A conviction can carry a prison sentence between 70 to 84 months along with a $5,000 minimum fine.
New forms of synthetic drugs are already replacing the outlawed versions. North Carolina's Alcohol Liquor Enforcement (ALE) agents are using state bans on inhaling toxic vapors to arrest and charge individuals caught with otherwise legal versions of new synthetic drugs.
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "Synthetic Drug Threats"