Criminal Justice

Prosecutions difficult for drugs masquerading as bath salts

Prosecutors face high hurdles when trying to win convictions for the sale of synthetic drugs that are often labeled as “bath salts” in retail stores.

The drugs can produce reactions ranging from euphoria to paranoia, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. Producers can keep these substances off a list of analogue drugs banned for their similarities to unlawful drugs by small tweaks to their chemistry.

To obtain a conviction, prosecutors have to prove that a drug has an intended or actual effect that is substantially similar to a banned substance, and that its chemical structure is also substantially similar.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia was able to win a conviction earlier this year in the second prosecution for synthetic drugs, the story says. The defendant had contended he sold the material for use in incense and potpourri burners. He was convicted and sentenced to more than two years in prison.

Related coverage:

Associated Press: “Many drugs remain legal after ‘bath salts’ ban”

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