What is the Law About “Spice” in Las Vegas?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Mar 05, 2016 | 0 Comments

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“Spice,” a synthetic drug designed to mimic the effects of THC, the active substance in marijuana, is illegal in Las Vegas under federal and state law.

The use of synthetic drugs like “spice,” K2,” “bath salts,” and “Molly” have skyrocketed in recent years, leading to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths. According to a federal government report, synthetic cannabinoids such as spice led to 28,531 emergency department visits in the U.S. in 2011, up from 11,406 in 2010.

The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 classified 26 synthetic drugs including spice as Schedule I drugs under the federal Controlled Substances Act making possession and distribution of spice, K2, and other synthetic cannabinoids a federal crime. (21 United States Code 811.22). Specifically:

  • Possession for personal use can result in:
    • a fine of not less than $1,000, and
    • up to one (1) year in federal prison.
  • Sale or possession with intent to sell (“trafficking”) is a serious felony that carries a minimum punishment of:
    • a fine of up to $1,000,000, and/or
    • up to 20 years in federal prison.

In reaction to the rise of spice and K2, all 50 states have passed laws banning synthetic cannabinoids according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“Controlled substance analogs” are illegal under Nevada law. Such a substance is defined as “a substance the chemical structure of which is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance placed in schedule I or II” and “which has a stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system substantially similar to the stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance placed in schedule I or II.” (NRS 453.043)

As determined by the Nevada State Board of Pharmacy, many of the chemicals in most variations of spice and synthetic marijuana fit this definition and are treated as Schedule I drugs with the penalties mirroring those of other Schedule I drugs in Nevada.

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime related to synthetic marijuana in Las Vegas, please give one of our experienced Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers a call.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).


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