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    Colorado Criminal Drug Laws – Salvia Dinvinorum” and Synthetic Cannabinoids  – Spice Is Shut Down In Colorado

    In 2011 – the Colorado State Legislature – in response to an epidemic and somewhat uncontrolled use of Spice – also known as K2 and many other names – and passed Senate Bill 11-134 – The new law – (see far below) creates new crimes and add these to existing Colorado Drug Crime offenses

    Knowledge is power – H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Criminal Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer

    Senate Bill 11-134 defines the terms “salvia dinvinorum” and “synthetic cannabinoids” and specifies

    Under the new section of the law – 18-18-406.2 – synthetic cannabinoids are not to be considered medical marijuana under Colorado law. The bill created the following new Colorado 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;


    • 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.

    Salvia divinorum, commonly known as salvia, is a plant that is a variety of sage. It grows in the mountains of Mexico, and it has powerful psychedelic and dissociative effects when smoked or chewed.

    synthetic cannabinoid  – Synthetic cannabis is a psychoactive herbal and chemical product that, when consumed, mimics the effects of cannabis. It is best known by the brand names K2  and Spice, both of which have largely become genericized trademarks used to refer to any synthetic cannabis product. (It is also for this reason that synthetic cannabis is often referred to as spice product, due to the latter.) A type of synthetic cannabis sold in Australasia is known as Kronic.

    An article in the Denver Post in 2011 – explains why the new laws were passed to control this drug- the new laws are reprinted below the summary of the article in the Post by Jessica Fender:

    As Synthetic Drug Spice Gains Popularity, Law Enforcers Find Ways to Shut down Supply

    It’s popular with adolescents, provides a marijuana-like high, is available online and on Colorado store shelves, and it’s legal — for now.

    As Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids show increasingly public impacts — at Colorado poison control, among probationers and teen addicts, and recently at the Air Force Academy — law enforcers are looking for ways to nip demand for the drug in the bud.

    Colorado authorities say they suspect increased use of Spice, plant material sprayed with THC-like chemicals, though that spike also coincides with the first tests available to screen for the tough-to-track substance.

    Ban in the works ( the new laws were passed!)

    With no quality-control standards on the drug, some samples have tested 100 times more potent than marijuana, and the worst side effects have been more severe, said Tamar Wilson, staff attorney with the Colorado District Attorneys’ Council.

    Her group wants to outlaw any form of synthetic cannabinoid and is pushing a bill to make penalties for possession even harsher than those for marijuana. A bill has not yet been filed in Colorado but is already drawing bipartisan support.

    “People are going to emergency rooms because of Spice,” Wilson said. “This is not a marijuana substitute, though that may be why people initially try it. Young people are getting it and bringing it to schools. We realized it really is a significant problem.”

    Should the planned legislation pass, Colorado would join 11 other states that ban synthetic cannabinoids.

    So-called designer drugs such as Spice — also known as K2 and other brand names — by nature are tough to track.

    They are created in laboratories to produce effects similar to more traditional drugs but remain different enough on a molecular level to escape detection in urine tests.

    And because chemists can tinker with those chemical formulas, such drugs can also be tough to ban.

    The federal Drug Enforcement Administration in November gave notice that it would move to reclassify five popular chemical varieties of Spice as controlled substances.

    Producers now advertise new versions of the drug that skirt the compounds on the DEA’s target list.

    “Folks that are manufacturing designer drugs, they’re in it to make money,” said Mike Turner, a DEA spokesman. “It’s possible they could tweak a molecule or whatever. We would just act on those as those come about.”

    Toxicologists studying the Spice phenomenon say the marijuana alternative got its start in Europe, became popular and migrated to the United States a few years ago.

    Synthetic cannabinoids are sold as “herbal incense” and labeled, almost with a wink, as “not for human consumption.”

    Spice has been attractive to teens and young adults, who think it is safe because it is legal.

    YouTube is awash in videos of young people testing Spice and lauding its benefits. And at $25 for 3 ounces, for sale on even mainstream sites such as Amazon .com, it is easily accessible.

    A number of hospitalizations linked to Spice have been reported across the country, with users reporting dangerously high heart rates and seizures in some instances.

    In Colorado, Spice-related calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center went from two in 2009 to more than 30 in 2010.

    Five cadets since last April have washed out of the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs for using the substance, which is a violation of Academy rules, and 25 more are under investigation.

    “It’s cultural. They’re in that age range where using new designer exotic drugs is part of their lifestyle,” said Laurence Freedom, founder of the Freedom Center drug- treatment facility in Lakewood.

    The lure of an undetectable high undermines treatment because it has allowed probationers to continue problem behaviors, said Shane Bahr, who oversees the state’s drug courts.

    “It goes back to the treatment element,” Bahr said. “It’s the behavior we’re trying to address.”

    About six months ago, the lab that conducts drug tests for state courts developed a screening for some forms of Spice.

    But at about $35 a pop, drug courts can’t routinely test every probationer, Bahr said.

    Boulder County’s intensive-treatment drug court tests more regularly, but it’s still too soon to measure the trend, said Harry McCrystal, treatment-court coordinator.

    “Not much is known yet about these substances and how they affect people,” McCrystal said. “A significant number of sanctions have been handed out recently because of Spice.”

    Here is the New Law

    Concerning the addition of certain drugs to the statutory list of schedule I controlled substances.

    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:

    (I)  HU-210: (6aR, 10aR)-9-(hydroxymethyl)-6, 6-dimethyl-3-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydrobenzo[c]chromen-1-ol; (II)  HU-211: dexanabinol, (6aS, 10aS)-9-(hydroxymethyl)-6, 6-dimethyl-3-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)-6a, 7, 10, 10a-tetrahydrobenzo[c]chromen-1-ol; (III)  JWH-018: 1-pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole; (IV)  JWH-073: 1-butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole; (V)  JWH-081: 1-pentyl-3-(4-methoxy-1-napthoyl)indole, also known as 4-methoxynapthalen-1-yl-(1-pentylindol-3-yl)methanone; (VI)  JWH-200: 1-[2-(4-morpholinyl)ethyl]-3-(1-napthoyl)indole; (VII)  JWH-250: 1-pentyl-3-(2-methoxyphenylacetyl)indole, also known as 2-(2-methoxyphenyl)-1-(1-petylindol-3-yl)ethanone; and (VIII)  CP 47, 497, and homologues: 2-[(1R, 3S)-3-hydroxycyclohexyl]-5-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)phenol.

    (c)  “Synthetic cannabinoid” does not mean:

    (I)  Any tetrahydrocannibols, as defined in subsection (35) of this section; or

    (II)  Nabilone.

    (d)  As used in this subsection (34.5), “analog” means any chemical that is substantially similar in chemical structure to a chemical compound that has been determined to have binding activity at one or more cannabinoid receptors.

    SECTION 2.  Part 4 of article 18 of title 18, Colorado Revised Statutes, is amended BY THE ADDITION OF THE FOLLOWING NEW SECTIONS to read:

    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 diagnosed with debilitating medical conditions – unlawful acts – penalty – medical marijuana program cash fund.



    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.
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