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2011 Changes to Colorado Drug Crimes Laws: Synthetic Marijuana

by Colorado Drug Crimes Lawyer – H. Michael Steinberg

In 2011 – the Colorado State Legislature Created several new crimes.  Among them was the addition of synthetic marijuana to certain existing crimes.

Senate Bill 11-134 defines the terms “salvia dinvinorum” and “synthetic cannabinoids” and specifies that synthetic cannabinoids are not to be considered medical marijuana under Colorado law. The bill creates the following new criminal offenses:

• class 2 misdemeanor of unlawfully using or possessing synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum;

• class 5 felony of knowingly distributing, manufacturing, dispensing, selling, or cultivating synthetic cannibinoids or salvia divinorum; and

• class 4 felony of knowingly distributing, dispensing, or selling synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum when the person distributes, dispenses, or sells to a minor under the age of 18 and the person is at least 18 years of age and at least two years older than the minor.

Here are the New Laws: The changes to the existing laws are CAPITALIZED:

SECTION 1. 18-18-102 (5), Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended, and the said 18-18-102 is further amended BY THE ADDITION OF THE FOLLOWING NEW SUBSECTIONS, to read:

18-18-102. Definitions. As used in this article:

(5) “Controlled substance” means a drug, substance, or immediate precursor included in schedules I through V of part 2 of this article, including cocaine, marijuana, and marijuana concentrate, ANY SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID, AND SALVIA DIVINORUM.

(33.5) “SALVIA DIVINORUM” MEANS SALVIA DIVINORUM, SALVINORIN A, AND ANY PART OF THE PLANT CLASSIFIED AS SALVIA DIVINORUM, WHETHER GROWING OR NOT, INCLUDING THE SEEDS THEREOF, ANY EXTRACT FROM ANY PART OF THE PLANT, AND ANY COMPOUND, MANUFACTURE, SALTS, DERIVATIVE, MIXTURE, OR PREPARATION OF THE PLANT, ITS SEEDS, OR ITS EXTRACTS.

(34.5) (a) “SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID” MEANS ANY CHEMICAL COMPOUND THAT IS CHEMICALLY SYNTHESIZED AND EITHER:

(I) HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED TO HAVE BINDING ACTIVITY AT ONE OR MORE CANNABINOID RECEPTORS; OR

(II) IS A CHEMICAL ANALOG OR ISOMER OF A COMPOUND THAT HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED TO HAVE BINDING ACTIVITY AT ONE OR MORE CANNABINOID RECEPTORS.

(b) “SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID” INCLUDES BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING SUBSTANCES: ( a long list of chemical combinations are not included here)

18-18-406.1. Unlawful use or possession of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum.

(1) ON AND AFTER JANUARY 1, 2012, IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON TO USE OR POSSESS ANY AMOUNT OF ANY SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID OR SALVIA DIVINORUM.

(2) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES ANY PROVISION OF SUBSECTION (1) OF THIS SECTION COMMITS A CLASS 2 MISDEMEANOR.

18-18-406.2. Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale, or cultivation of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum.

(1) IT IS UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON KNOWINGLY TO: (a) MANUFACTURE, DISPENSE, SELL, OR DISTRIBUTE, OR TO POSSESS WITH INTENT TO MANUFACTURE, DISPENSE, SELL, OR DISTRIBUTE, ANY AMOUNT OF ANY SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID OR SALVIA DIVINORUM; (b) INDUCE, ATTEMPT TO INDUCE, OR CONSPIRE WITH ONE OR MORE OTHER PERSONS, TO MANUFACTURE, DISPENSE, SELL, DISTRIBUTE, OR POSSESS WITH INTENT TO MANUFACTURE, DISPENSE, SELL, OR DISTRIBUTE, ANY AMOUNT OF ANY SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID OR SALVIA DIVINORUM; OR

(c) CULTIVATE SALVIA DIVINORUM WITH INTENT TO DISPENSE, SELL, OR DISTRIBUTE ANY AMOUNT OF THE SALVIA DIVINORUM.

(2) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES ANY PROVISION OF SUBSECTION (1) OF THIS SECTION COMMITS A CLASS 5 FELONY.

(3) NOTWITHSTANDING THE PROVISIONS OF SUBSECTION (2) OF THIS SECTION, A PERSON WHO VIOLATES ANY PROVISION OF SUBSECTION (1) OF THIS SECTION BY DISPENSING, SELLING, OR DISTRIBUTING ANY AMOUNT OF ANY SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID OR SALVIA DIVINORUM COMMITS A CLASS 4 FELONY IF THE PERSON:

(a) DISPENSES, SELLS, OR DISTRIBUTES THE SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID OR SALVIA DIVINORUM TO A MINOR WHO IS LESS THAN EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE; AND

(b) IS AT LEAST EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE AND AT LEAST TWO YEARS OLDER THAN SAID MINOR.

(4) AS USED IN THIS SECTION, “DISPENSE” DOES NOT INCLUDE LABELING, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 12-22-102 (16), C.R.S. SECTION 3.

18-18-406.3, Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SUBSECTION to read:

18-18-406.3. Medical use of marijuana by persons diagnosedwith debilitating medical conditions – unlawful acts – penalty – medical marijuana program cash fund. (6) THE USE, POSSESSION,

MANUFACTURING, DISPENSING, SELLING, OR DISTRIBUTION OF A SYNTHETIC CANNABINOID, AS DEFINED IN SECTION 18-18-102 (34.5), SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED AN EXCEPTION TO THE CRIMINAL LAWS OF THIS STATE FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION OR OF SECTION 14 OF ARTICLE XVIII OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION.

SECTION 5. Effective date – applicability. This act shall take effect July 1, 2011, and shall apply to offenses committed on or after said date. 

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
The Edward Building
8400 East Prentice Avenue - Suite 420
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
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