Two Missouri men have pleaded not guilty to drug charges in connection with the alleged sale of synthetic marijuana. The men, ages 44 and 51, are facing a 21-count indictment in connection with the case. Those charges include distributing drugs and drug paraphernalia, along with conspiracy. The younger man is also accused of money laundering, while the older is accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Interestingly, federal law does not expressly prohibit the sale of many of the synthetic substances, as listing the chemical compositions of potential copy-cat substances would be an overwhelming task. Instead, federal investigators are able to press charges if the substances are chemically or pharmacologically similar to other prohibited drugs.

The question, then, arises: Are the substances sold by the defendants even categorized as illegal?

The men are accused of selling the drugs and paraphernalia through their jointly owned store, Bocomo Bay. Instead of selling traditional drugs, however, the men are accused of peddling synthetic products with similar chemical compositions as street drugs. The most common drug to be replicated is marijuana, with synthetic alternatives abounding throughout the industry. These products often consist of plant matter that has been sprayed with a chemical substance similar to marijuana. The synthetic drugs, which come in a variety of scents and flavors, are often marketed as incense to disguise their true use.

So far, the federal indictment in the case is seeking to force the men to surrender millions in profits, along with a number of items from their store. The men could also be forced to surrender the 76 guns allegedly found in their possession.

Synthetic marijuana and other similar drugs are coming under additional scrutiny from state and federal courts. Cases such as this will help decide the precedent for the future treatment of defendants accused of selling the substances. A qualified criminal defense attorney can help defendants learn more about their rights in light of these uncertain charges.

Source:  www.stltoday.com, "2 Missouri businessmen face synthetic pot charges" David A. Lieb, Oct. 17, 2013