Synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, and phenethylamines included as schedule 1 controlled substances.
Attorney General Pam Bondi finds that there are currently dangerous psychoactive substances that are not scheduled as controlled substances and are being marketed in Florida. Subsequent to the most recent revisions to Section 893.03(1)(c), Florida Statutes, which became effective in March 2012, Florida law enforcement has noted the emergence of new chemical variants of several recently scheduled substances. Although technically different from currently scheduled substances, these substances are generally classifiable as Synthetic Cannabinoids, Cathinones, and Synthetic Phenethylamines. These substances are being abused because they are ostensibly legal and often times perceived as a safer alternative to illegal drugs such as marijuana, MDMA (“ecstasy”), cocaine, and amphetamines. But, in many cases, they are more dangerous. Due to their chemical design, they are commonly available for purchase in specialty smoke shops, over the internet, in convenience stores and from other retailers, making them easily obtained for abuse by Florida‟s children and young adults. Such abuse present severe health risks, and an immediate danger and imminent hazard to the health, safety, and welfare of Floridians …
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Florida Lawyer and Attorney General Pam Bondi released the following statement on the Florida Senate’s unanimous passage of the Controlled Substances Bill, Senate Bill 294. This legislation adds 27 additional substances to Schedule I of controlled substances, making it a third-degree felony for an individual to “sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver” these dangerous drugs. Senate Bill 294 is sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley. The House companion, House Bill 619, is sponsored by Representative Clay Ingram.
“This legislation is critical in removing synthetic drugs from store shelves and protecting Floridians from these dangerous substances,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I have enjoyed working with Senator Bradley and the entire Florida Senate on this key public safety legislation.”
Controlled Substances; Adding to the list of Schedule I controlled substances certain specified materials, compounds, mixtures, or preparations that contain hallucinogenic substances, or any of their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers, if the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation; providing reduced penalties for possession of 3 grams or less of specified controlled substances; providing criminal penalties for a person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, a specified quantity of specified controlled substances, etc.
SB 294 codifies the Schedule I scheduling of the substances listed in the Attorney General‟s emergency rule issued on December 11, 2012, that scheduled several new synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, and phenethylamines as Schedule I controlled substances. The Attorney General filed this emergency rule to address the public safety risk of new synthetic substances being sold and abused in Florida. This rule is temporary and scheduling will lapse when the rule expires on June 30, 2012, unless the scheduling is codified in statute by the Legislature.
Under the bill, persons who engage in certain unlawful acts involving these substances will be subject to arrest and prosecution.
The bill will have an insignificant fiscal impact due to the small number of expected additional, new prison commitments.
This bill is effective upon becoming a law. This bill substantially amends sections 893.03, 893.13, and 893.135, Florida Statutes. The bill reenacts sections 893.13(1)-(6) and 921.0022(3)(b)-(e), Florida Statutes.
Schedule I Controlled Substances
A substance is a “controlled substance” if it is listed in any of five schedules in s. 893.03, F.S. The particular scheduling determines penalties that may be imposed for unlawful possession, sale, etc., and the conditions under which the substance can be legally possessed, prescribed, sold, etc. A substance in Schedule I is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and, in its use under medical supervision, does not meet accepted safety standards.
As a result of legislation that became law in 2011 and 2012, there are several synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, and phenethylamines included as Schedule I controlled substances at s. 893.03(1)(c), F.S.
Synthetic Cannabinoids, Cathinones, and Phenethylamines
“Synthetic Cannabinoids are chemicals that act as cannabinoid receptor agonists. Chemically they are not similar to cannabinoids but the term “Synthetic Cannabinoids” or “Cannabinomimetics” is widely used to refer to them as they are cannabinoid-like in their activity.” In findings relevant to the synthetic cannabinoids scheduled by emergency rule (2ER 12-1), the Attorney General states that the substances are known to produce side effects that include: headaches; agitation; vomiting; dangerous hallucinations; loss of consciousness; elevated blood pressure; seizures; increased heart rate; increased anxiety; convulsions; unresponsiveness; and suicidal thoughts.
Cathinone is a Schedule I controlled substance. Cathinone is an alkaloid found in the shrub Catha edulis (khat) and is chemically similar to amphetamines and other substances. The “molecular architecture” of cathinone “can be altered to produce a series of different compounds which are closely structurally related to cathinone.” In findings in 2ER 12-1 relevant to the synthetic cathinones scheduled by the emergency rule, the Attorney General describes the cathinones as stimulants that affect neurotransmitters in the brain and cause a sensation to the user similar to cocaine and amphetamines. They have been known to cause intense cravings for the substances and users have been reported to go on multiday binges that cause medical problems necessitating medical intervention.
The Attorney General states that some of the short-term side effects of the cathinones include: increased heart rate; agitation; diminished requirement for sleep; lack of appetite; increased alertness and awareness; anxiety fits and delusions; and nosebleeds. More serious side effects include: muscle spasms; blood circulation problems (including increased blood pressure); kidney failure; seizures; muscle damage; loss of bowel control; hallucinations; aggression; severe paranoia; panic attacks; sharp increase in body temperature; risk of renal failure; and cardiac arrest.
“Phenethylamines” is a „broad‟ category “of psychoactive substances[.]” In findings in 2ER 12- 1 relevant to the synthetic phenethylamines scheduled by the emergency rule, the Attorney General states: “Users ingest phenethylamines for their stimulant and hallucinogenic effects.” The Attorney General states that some of the dangers or side effects of these substances include: overdosing;10 hallucinations; breathing difficulties; uncontrollable muscle spasms; cardiac arrest; and Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD).
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the synthetic substances scheduled by the bill “have no legitimate medical use and have a high potential for abuse.”
Penalties for Unlawful Acts Involving Controlled Substances
The Attorney General‟s emergency rule (2ER 12-1) schedules the new synthetic substances (listed in the “Effect of Proposed Changes” section of this analysis) in Schedule I at s. 893.03(1)(c), F.S. Persons who engage in certain unlawful acts under chapter 893, F.S., involving substances listed in s. 893.03(1)(c), F.S., are subject to arrest and prosecution.
Selling, manufacturing, or delivering, or possessing with intent to sell, manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance listed in s. 893.03(1)(c), F.S., is a third degree felony. However, if any of these acts are committed within 1,000 feet of certain designated places, the felony degree and penalties are greater. For example, selling a controlled substance listed in s. 893.03(1)(c), F.S., within 1,000 feet of the real property of a K-12 public or private school is a second degree felony.
Purchasing, or possessing with intent to purchase, a controlled substance listed in s. 893.13(1)(c), F.S., is a third degree felony.
Possessing 3 grams or less of a substance described in s. 893.03(1)(c)46.-50. and 114.-442., F.S., (synthetic cannabinoids) is a first degree misdemeanor. Possessing more than 3 grams of any of these synthetic cannabinoids or any amount of any other substance listed in s. 893.03(1)(c), F.S., is a third degree felony.
The synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones, and phenethylamines scheduled as controlled substances are not listed in any provision of s. 893.135, F.S., the drug trafficking statute. Consequently, drug trafficking offenses do not apply.
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