Category Archives: Drug Offenses

Travelers Who Are More Likely To Get Stopped By TSA

'Safe-list' travelers get fast track through airport security | CNN Business

Excellent article from journalist Erika Mailman gives advice on how not to draw a TSA agent’s attention when travelling by airplane.

AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR

The first thing that raises a red flag is aggressive behavior. Even if you’re justifiably upset about a canceled or delayed flight, you need to keep your cool and remain courteous. Tamp down that anger, or you might get a little more attention than you bargained for.

OVERLY FRIENDLY

On the other side of the coin, overly friendly passengers draw the TSA agent’s eye. No need to make small talk—this person is not your friend. And if you’re too chatty with the agent, you may appear to be trying to disarm them. It’s best to just be polite and neutral.

NERVOUS

Another sign that the agent looks for? People who act nervous. You might be a nervous flyer or filled with anxiety about other aspects of your trip. So, while you’re going through the checkpoint, try to avoid the indications of being aflutter: clearing your throat a lot, being pale or shaky, or being wide-eyed. How can you quell those signs? Try to meditate or visualize a pleasant space in your life that makes you feel calm.

AVOIDING EYE CONTACT

Avoiding eye contact is another telltale sign. Don’t be shifty-eyed; look at the agent directly when he or she is talking to you.

BAGGY CLOTHING

Believe it or not, baggy clothing can make an agent take a second look, because they may wonder if something is being concealed under those folds of fabric. That could inspire them to request a pat-down. Your clothes can also be a red flag if they are out of season. No, we don’t mean that you’re wearing last season’s runway; we mean that you’re wearing a parka in summertime. It could make the agent think a weapon’s hidden under all that goose down.

INTOXICATION

Another thing that makes you appear suspicious is being drunk (and, relatedly, unruly). The time you spend cocktailing in the airport bar may actually cause an agent to request a blood alcohol test…and if you don’t pass, you could be denied boarding. And even if you aren’t found to be tipsy or loaded, you might have drawn unwanted attention from TSA.

CARRYING LOTS OF CASH

If you are carrying a lot of cash, especially if it’s in different denominations, you could be seen as a potential trafficker. It’s best to convert your money back to American dollars before heading to the airport.

MISCELLANEOUS

The list of suspicious behaviors and appearances continues. They include transporting electronic and electrical items such as curling irons, having an intricate hairdo with pins and clips, bringing battery packs (those go in carry-on luggage only and can’t be in checked bags), trying to get by with larger liquid containers than the allowed 3.4 ounces, and talking about bombs and guns while in line. It may surprise you to know that you can be arrested for joking about bombs while in the TSA line. The best advice is to be chill, don’t talk other than when directly addressed, and follow all the rules to a tee.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime while travelling. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Going Pro-Se: Should You Represent Yourself In Court?

Is the law library a thing of the past for law firms?

Image from Shutterstock.

In State v. Gwin, the WA Court of Appeals decided an interesting case of a defendant who wanted to represent himself pro se.

BACKGROUND FACTS

Mr. Gwin was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, felony harassment, and possession of heroin with intent to deliver. At trial, Mr. Gwin exercised his right to self-representation. The court conducted a colloquy and determined that Gwin knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel. The court granted Gwin’s motion to represent himself, and Gwin completed a waiver of counsel. However, the trial court denied his request for standby counsel, citing its blanket policy to deny such requests.

Gwin opted for a bench trial, waiving his right to a jury. The court found Gwin guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree and felony harassment. Gwin was acquitted of possession of heroin with intent to deliver. On appeal, Gwin argued the court’s categorical denial of his request for standby counsel violated his right to represent himself under Washington Constitution article I, section 22.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The Court of Appeals (COA) began by saying the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution afford a criminal defendant both the right to (1) assistance of counsel and the right to (2) reject that assistance and to represent himself. While both are guaranteed, the right to proceed pro se and the right to assistance of counsel are mutually exclusive.

“Self-representation is a grave undertaking, one not to be encouraged. Its consequences, which often work to the defendant’s detriment, must nevertheless be borne by the defendant . . . The federal right to self-representation does not include a right to standby counsel or hybrid representation.” ~WA Court of Appeals

The COA addressed Mr. Gwin’s argument that the trial court’s refusal to appoint standby counsel violated his rights.

Because there is no constitutional right to standby counsel, the court’s failure to consider Gwin’s request is not of constitutional magnitude and is subject to analysis under the nonconstitutional harmless error standard. Under this nonconstitutional harmless error standard, ‘an accused cannot avail himself of error as a ground for reversal unless it has been prejudicial An error is not prejudicial unless, within reasonable probabilities, the outcome of the trial would have been materially affected had the error not occurred.

From there, the COA made a very clear record of Mr. Gwin’s self-representation and largely disagreed with his arguments:

“While standby counsel may have improved contact with defense witnesses and led to more success in impeaching State witnesses, Gwin has not demonstrated that the outcome of the trial would have been materially affected. Thus, the trial court’s failure to meaningfully consider Gwin’s request for standby counsel was harmless error.” ~WA Court of Appeals.

With that, the COA upheld his convictions.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Study: Daily Marijuana Use Outpaces Drinking

Marijuana vs. Alcohol | Is Marijuana Safer Than Alcohol?

Fortune.com reports that millions of people in the U.S. use marijuana daily or nearly every day. This information comes via analysis of national survey data. Also, marijuana users now outnumber alcohol drinkers.

Alcohol is still more widely used, but 2022 was the first time this intensive level of marijuana use overtook daily and near-daily drinking, said the study’s author, Jonathan Caulkins, a cannabis policy researcher at Carnegie Mellon University.

“A good 40% of current cannabis users are using it daily or near daily, a pattern that is more associated with tobacco use than typical alcohol use,” ~Jonathan Caulkins.

THE RESEARCH DATA

The research, based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, was published Wednesday in the journal Addiction. The survey is a highly regarded source of self-reported estimates of tobacco, alcohol and drug use in the United States.

In 2022, an estimated 17.7 million people reported using marijuana daily or near-daily compared to 14.7 million daily or near-daily drinkers, according to the study. From 1992 to 2022, the per capita rate of reporting daily or near-daily marijuana use increased 15-fold. Caulkins acknowledged in the study that people may be more willing to report marijuana use as public acceptance grows, which could boost the increase.

Most states now allow medical or recreational marijuana, though it remains illegal at the federal level. In November, Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment allowing recreational cannabis, and the federal government is moving to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

Research shows that high-frequency users are more likely to become addicted to marijuana, said Dr. David A. Gorelick, a psychiatry professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

EXCESSIVE DRUG AND ALCOHOL USE LEADS TO CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR

My opinion? The correlation between substance abuse and violent behavior has been well documented. Studies show that more than 26% of respondents who reported using alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine in a 12-month period, also reported committing a violent crime within the same time frame.

Some individuals use aggressive techniques to steal money to buy more drugs; others may be involved in the drug-trafficking, which often leads to violent crimes. For others, violence is a long-term side effect of the substance they abuse. Studies reveal individuals addicted to methamphetamine, for instance, may suffer from anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disorders, and aggressive or violent behavior.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

You Can’t Transport Marijuana On a Plane, Even Within States Where Pot is Legal

Illustration courtesy of Gene Kim

In Fejes v. FAA, No. 22-70129 (April 22, 2024), the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that people cannot transport marijuana by airplane even when travelling solely within states where cannabis is decriminalized.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mr. Fejes transported marijuana—which is legal under Alaska law, but a controlled substance under federal law—by aircraft within Alaska. In some remote parts of Alaska, aircraft are the only mode of delivering goods, including marijuana. Fejes held a pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). At least three times, Fejes piloted an aircraft to transport and distribute marijuana to retail stores within the state.

After an investigation, the FAA revoked his pilot certificate under the authority that distributing marijuana via aircraft is a federal crime. Fejes appealed the order revoking his pilot’s certificate through numerous agency proceedings. In those proceedings, Fejes admitted that he piloted an aircraft to distribute marijuana within Alaska. However, he argued that his conduct fell outside of reach of federal laws revoking pilot’s licenses for controlled substance violations. Fejes now appealed his information to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

COURT’S ANALYSIS & CONCLUSIONS

The 9th Circuit rejected Feyes’ argument that the FAA lacks jurisdiction to revoke his pilot certificate. It reasoned that under the Commerce Clause, airplanes are instrumentalities of interstate commerce. As such, airspace is a channel of commerce within congressional authority.

“We have held that cars are instrumentalities of interstate commerce. United States v. Oliver, 60 F.3d 547, 550 (9th Cir. 1995). Even if an airplane, like a car, is mainly used for intrastate activities, its operations could substantially impact interstate commerce. Thus, Fejes’s conduct falls within the second category as well.”  ~9th Circuit Court of Appeals

The 9th Circuit further reasoned that although many states have legalized recreational marijuana, it continues to be a controlled substance federally.

“The public may believe that a state’s legalization of marijuana broadly protects marijuana use. But state law legalizing marijuana distribution does not negate federal law criminalizing the same action . . . And marijuana is still illegal in many contexts under federal law, even in states that provide legal allowances.” ~9th Circuit Court of Appeals

With that, the 9th Circuit upheld the revocation of Mr. Feyes’s pilot’s license.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Feds Moving to Re-Classify Marijuana

DEA moving to reclassify marijuana – WKRN News 2

Excellent reporting by journalist Ellen Dennis in the The Spokesman Review discusses the U.S. government’s efforts to reclassifying marijuana as a less harmful drug.

The U.S. Attorney General circulated a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III drug. If finalized, this change in classification by the U.S. Department of Justice would federally recognize the medical use of cannabis. It would also ease banking regulations, thus making it far more manageable for pot shops to do business.

What Do the Drug Schedule Levels Mean?

Schedule I substances are defined by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Right now, marijuana is a Schedule I Drug. It lists alongside heroin, peyote, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone.

Schedule II drugs are defined by the government as dangerous drugs with a high potential for abuse. Examples of Schedule II drugs include fentanyl, oxycodone (Oxycontin), methamphetamine, Adderall and Ritalin. Schedule III substances are defined as drugs with a moderate-to-low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

What Would Rescheduling Do?

According to the article, rescheduling the drug would be a huge positive for people who work in the weed industry. It would open up federal funding, government loans and access to government emergency relief funds. Rescheduling would also help break down stigma surrounding cannabis.

That’s helped fuel fast growth in the marijuana industry, with an estimated worth of nearly $30 billion. Easing federal regulations could reduce the tax burden that can be 70% or more for businesses, according to industry groups. It could also make it easier to research marijuana, since it’s very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies on Schedule I substances.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act is a proposed federal law that would ensure that all businesses – including state-sanctioned weed stores – have access to deposit accounts, insurance and other financial services.

Currently, Pot Shops in Washington by law may only take payments in cash form, leaving them vulnerable to armed robberies. Some store owners across the state have done their best to keep the environments safe for workers, including installing panic buttons behind the counters and ramping up security systems, but the best way to bolster safety would be to allow cannabis sellers to accept debit and credit card payments, industry players say.

It is possible that rescheduling could allow the cannabis industry to claim business deductions on federal tax forms, since the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t allow that for any business that sells a Schedule I controlled substance.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Cannabis Advocates: Biden is Missing an Opportunity Legalize Marijuana

Why Joe Biden's Marijuana Move Is a Midterm 'No Brainer'

The Hill reports that President Biden is missing an opportunity to sway young voters with his reluctance to take bigger steps to legalize marijuana at the federal level.

While campaigning for the White House in 2020, Biden said, “No one should be in jail because of marijuana. As President, I will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions.”

Cannabis advocates say the Biden administration has opened several avenues for marijuana reform. These include issuing federal pardons for simple possession and starting the process of potentially rescheduling marijuana’s status under the Controlled Substances Act from Schedule I to Schedule III.

But those measures have failed to excite advocates. They now say Biden is falling short of his 2020 campaign promises and failing to address the disparate overcriminalization of the drug that has unduly impacted minority communities. Progressive lawmakers in the Senate are urging the administration to go further and completely deschedule the drug. Legalization it would effectively decriminalize it at the federal level, as opposed to rescheduling it.

“Marijuana’s placement in the Controlled Substances Act] has had a devastating impact on our communities and is increasingly out of step with state law and public opinion,” 12 Democratic lawmakers wrote to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last month.

IS THERE POLITICAL WILL TO LEGALIZE MARIJUANA?

Public opinion is strongly in favor of marijuana legalization. A Gallup poll from November found a record 70 percent of Americans believed marijuana should be legal.

More recent polling from Lake Research Partners backs up public support for federal marijuana reform, with 58 percent supporting a rescheduling to Schedule III, compared to 19 percent who opposed the move.

“It’s a really strong issue with some constituencies that Democrats really need to increase their support and enthusiasm, specifically young people, African Americans, Democratic base voters, people of color, young men of color,” said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster and strategist who serves as president of Lake Research Partners.

Hayley Matz Meadvin, Executive Vice President of Communications at Precision Strategies and a former Biden administration staffer, noted the “supermajority of support” behind marijuana legalization could help Biden lure in voters across the political spectrum.

“This is a popular issue that motivates voters, and it doesn’t just motivate — it clearly just doesn’t motivate exclusively Democrats. And that will be critical this fall.” ~Hayley Matz Meadvin, Executive Vice President of Communications at Precision Strategies

THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

Biden and Trump, his likely 2024 rival, are polling neck and neck both nationally and in key swing states. The election could come down to a few thousand voters in those states, potentially giving niche issues such marijuana added importance.

Advocates say his actions so far fall short of that promise. And they said he may struggle to clearly communicate any progress on marijuana reform, especially as some actions are left unfinished; the DEA has yet to issue its decision on rescheduling marijuana, and the federal pardons issued last year could not apply to state-level convictions, though Biden has encouraged governors to follow his lead.

While marijuana reform may not be among the issues expected to dominate the 2024 elections, strategists note that smaller issues frequently break through the noise during election cycles.  Perhaps substantial marijuana reform action from Biden would signal to voters he is a “modern president” and could make a difference in states including Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. As of now, possessing marijuana is still a federal crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

WA State Patrol Kicks Off “Home For the Holidays” DUI Enforcement Campaign

Washington State Police: Home for the Holidays Traffic Safety Campaign | Local | bigcountrynewsconnection.com

Accoding to a press release, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) will work together to enforce DUI pullovers and encourage drivers to make good choices.

The “Home for the Holidays” traffic safety campaign continues now through New Years Eve. Historically, the WSP observes an increase in all collision types during this time frame, as well as an increase in impaired drivers on our roadways.

“While we can’t prevent all collisions, buckling up and slowing down, particularly in wet conditions, dramatically improve the chances that drivers and their passengers will survive a crash and avoid serious injury.” ~Shelly Baldwin, WTSC Director.

Encouraging drivers to make good choices behind the wheel is especially important considering the rise in fatality collisions across Washington state over the past several years. According to preliminary WTSC data, there have been nearly as many fatal collisions between through September 2023 (578) as compared to the same timeframe in 2022 (582). Last year was a 32-year high for fatality collisions across Washington state.

Numbers from the WTSC show 776 lives were lost across the state due to traffic related collisions in the months of October, November, and December from 2018 to 2022. Of those tragedies, 40 percent involved impaired drivers, 30 percent involved excessive speed, 16 percent involved distracted drivers, and 29 percent of those killed were pedestrians or pedal cyclists.

“Fatality collisions are preventable tragedies, and we must all do our part in order to help save lives,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “Buckling up, slowing down, and driving sober can help make sure we all make it home to our loved ones for the holidays.”

Drivers are asked to checklist check road conditions before heading out.

  • Buckle up and ensure all occupants are also properly seat belted before driving;
  • Follow posted speed limits and slow down as necessary in adverse weather and around vulnerable road users, including walkers and cyclists;
  • Increase following distance, especially in adverse weather or low light conditions;
  • Always choose to drive sober;
  • Avoid distractions, such as the use of a hand-held cell phone or watching videos while driving.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI, Reckless Driving or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Alcohol vs. Cannabis vs. Tobacco: What’s the Worst?

Weed Seems to Protect Your Liver From the Effects of Hard Drinking

Intriguing article in The Hill by Journalist Alix Martichoux discusses medical advice on what substances harm health the worst: alcohol, tobacco or marijuana?

Although the doctors disagreed on what substance was most harmful, all three doctors agreed that marijuana was the least harmful.

Dr. Anand Akhil, a behavioral health doctor with Cleveland Clinic, said that when it comes to generalizing for the average person, alcohol was the worst, followed by tobacco.

“Alcohol use is linked to over 200 health conditions and diseases, damaging every organ system in the body . . . Depression, anxiety, dementia, cancers, heart and liver disease, and bone disease can all result from alcohol consumption. Similarly, tobacco use is largely connected to serious cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular diseases.” ~Dr. Anand Akhil

Dr. Kevin Most, chief medical officer at Northwestern Central DuPage Hospital, agreed in a recent interview with WGN Radio.

“I would certainly rank alcohol No. 1.  . . . I’m going to say that alcohol in moderation is OK, but too much alcohol is going to have impact on many illnesses.” ~Dr. Kevin Most

The harms of consuming tobacco, Dr. Most said, could be largely reversed when people stop smoking earlier in life. “If people understand the the risk of lung cancer, based on how many years you’ve been smoking and how much you’ve been smoking, if you stop that smoking at an early age … your lungs can reinvigorate and get back almost to normal.”

But Glickman disagreed, and ranked tobacco as worst due to the fact it has no proven health benefits.

“Tobacco I would argue is the worse substance of the three, given it has no conceivable benefit even in light amounts, and considerable risks. Tobacco has been linked to increases in heart disease, cancers, and premature mortality, among others . . . Alcohol on the other hand, could have benefits at light or moderate amounts, but then risks with large amounts.” ~Dr. Glickman

He said red wine in particular contains antioxidants, and pointed to studies showing up to one glass per day can reduce inflammation in blood vessels.

But all three doctors agreed on which ranked least harmful to the average person’s health.

“I would put marijuana third, mainly because we know that there’s a lot of medicinal uses for marijuana and used in the right format and in the controlled environment is fine,” Most said. He said chemotherapy patients often credit cannabis as the only thing keeping their appetite up, allowing them to get nutrition they need.

Glickman said evaluating cannabis’ healthfulness and harmfulness is more complicated than the other two.

“The available evidence suggests that cannabis could be of benefit when medically supervised as part of a treatment plan for certain conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, trauma, insomnia, and muscular disorders, among others,” he said. But Glickman went on to say cannabis use could make certain mental health issues worse, as well as impair memory and concentration.

He said the data suggests there is an extra risk to young adults whose brains aren’t fully developed.

Plus, Akhil noted, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have guidelines on how much alcohol adults can consume in moderation (up to two drinks a day for men, one drink for women), there are no such guidelines for safe cannabis or tobacco use.

“I think negative health consequences could be possible for all of the three substances, even in moderate amounts, depending on the person and situation,” Glickman said. “There is no foolproof vice.”

All three experts emphasized each person is unique, and you should always talk to your doctor about your specific situation.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with DUI or any other crime involving drugs and alcohol. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Blake Refund Bureau Launches to Assist with Refunds of Court Fines

Washington State Courts - News, Reports, Court Information

It will soon be easier for Washingtonians with past drug convictions to get reimbursed for fees and fines they paid under the state’s now-overturned drug law.

Washington state’s official online reimbursement center for court-ordered fines or costs paid in connection with drug possession convictions, found to be unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in State v. Blake, launched July 29, 2023.

Now accessible at www.courts.wa.gov/blakerefund, the Blake Refund Bureau was developed by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) in collaboration with courts serving all 39 Washington state counties and 112 separate municipalities. Individuals convicted of simple drug possession, cannabis possession and paraphernalia convictions between 1971 and 2021 can now receive qualifying financial reimbursements via the Bureau’s self-guided, centralized portal.

“As partners with courts across the state, this bureau is a critical tool to ensure that individuals receive the refunds due to them in a timely and efficient manner.” ~AOC Chief Financial and Management Officer Chris Stanley

In 2021, the Washington Supreme Court found the legal statutes that criminalized drug possession were unconstitutional and void because they did not require intent, or knowledge of possession — a due process violation of both state and federal constitutions. As a result of this decision, known as State v Blake , any Blake-related convictions qualify to be vacated and removed from one’s criminal record, and any legal financial obligations (LFOs) paid as a result qualify for financial reimbursement.

To administer these reimbursements statewide, the Washington State Legislature determined a centralized bureau would be instrumental for public accessibility, and help to offset costs to courts, prosecutors and defense attorneys.

With $47 million earmarked towards possession charge vacations, sentencing adjustments, and an additional $51 million set aside for paid LFO refunds, AOC was appointed the task of developing the Blake Refund Bureau in collaboration with local courts and county clerks, public defenders, prosecutors, impacted individuals, advocacy groups and other stakeholders.

This work is unprecedented, with no related instances of a state issuing hundreds of thousands of vacations and refunds at one time. The State v Blake ruling impacts an estimated 200,000+ felony drug possession charges dating back to the 1970s and an estimated additional 125,000 misdemeanor marijuana charges eligible for vacation.

Individuals can apply online via the Blake Refund Bureau portal, or apply via mail. Applicants must have their name, case number, and proof of ID with picture prior to applying. Additionally, optional fields are available to upload further identifying information including proof of name change, divorce decree, international address, and power of attorney if filing for someone else.

Refund progress tracking, a help forum and how-to video will be available to help guide users through the online application process. To help individuals understand their rights, vacate their records and learn about qualifying LFO and 3rd party reimbursements, the Blake Refund Bureau offers resources and a free Blake hotline courtesy of Washington State Office of Public Defense.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense ort any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Cathinone: The Newest Drug to Hit Streets & Nightclubs

What you need to know about synthetic drugs | CNN

The Drug Enforcement Administration is issuing a warning about Cathinone, the latest drug that has made its way to Northeast Florida streets. Cathinone is a natural stimulant that comes from a plant. However, this Cathinone is synthetic, meaning it’s a concoction of dangerous chemicals.

WHAT ARE SYNTHETIC CATHINONES?

Synthetic cathinones have stimulant properties related to cathinone, the psychoactive substance found in the khat shrub. It produces effects similar to methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA, to name a few. They have been sold as “bath salts.” Often, they’re sold over the Internet, at convenience stores, tobacco/smoke shops, and gas stations and packaged in shiny plastic bags and bright logos.

More recently, the cathinone market has been pushed underground. It’s being sold in “traditional drug packaging” like little baggies, and can be found in tablet, capsule, or powder form. Users can experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, suicidal thoughts, seizures, chest pains, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and violent outbursts. These drugs have also resulted in overdose deaths.

The drug was first found in Sweden in 2014, then seven years later, it showed in a United States toxicology report. Very little is known about the drug.

CATHINONE NOW APPEARING IN FLORIDA NIGHTCLUBS.

As of 12 months ago, the dangerous drug started showing up in the Jacksonville metropolitan area.

Jacksonville DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet said law enforcement officers are finding that the younger generation possesses the new drug in area nightclubs and bars.

“It’s very cheap, about $150 to $200 per ounce. It’s an alternative that people are turning to just because of the price and the effects they are getting from it.” ~DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet

Because N,N-Dimethylpentylone Hydrochloride creates similar effects as other drugs, law enforcement said it also has the potential to deliver the same negative side effects which include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, hyperthermia, hallucinations, dehydration, loss of consciousness and death.

“State, local, and federal government is aware of it and we’re all trying to go after the people that are responsible for distributing it on our streets,” Dubet said.

Dubet also pointed out another problem with the drug. He said since it’s being sold as cocaine, an unsuspecting buyer who thinks they’re getting cocaine may resort to gun violence when they realize they were sold something else.

“The customer can feel they’re being ripped off which could lead to some of the retaliatory violence.” ~DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Dubet

Seventy pounds of the drug was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Washington Dulles International Airport. Agents said two boxes of the drug were sent from China and were listed on the manifest as beauty products. It’s unclear if the people in China who shipped the drugs to DC are the same people responsible for supplying the same drugs to Northeast Florida.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a Drug Offense or any other crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.