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Colorado Drug Crimes – Bath Salt Laws

By Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – for Drugs Crimes Defense – Bath Salts Cases

In June of 2012  Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill outlawing the use of cathinones, commonly referred to as “bath salts.”

What have been called the most dangerous and addictive drugs to hit Colorado in many years, the Colorado State Legislature passed the new law very quickly.  One must ask why?

The new law, passed and enacted on the signature of the Governor creates a criminal penalty for the possession of cathinones, the dangerous chemical used in bath salts.

It also creates a penalty for anyone who distributes, manufactures, sells or purchases cathinone products.

What are Bath Salts?

“Bath salts’ produce a high similar to cocaine or ecstasy, were legally available at so called Colorado “head shops” – alongside bongs, pipes, hookahs and other drug paraphernalia.

They can cause paranoia, hallucinations and aggressive behavior. The State Legislator who sponsored the law stated: “Bath salts are a dangerous substance that puts users into a psychotic state,” (said Rep. J. Paul Brown, R-Durango), “They’re cheap, accessible and extremely destructive.”

Bath salts–(a synthetic drug) are still readily available online. They were first popular in the South and Midwest and only recently became popular in the Northeast. The highly-addictive drug may be snorted or injected and the high can reportedly last between 20 minutes and four hours.

Bath salts are generally considered to be synthetic amphetamines.

The symptoms of all types of bath salts tend to be the same. Users may become agitated or paranoid, have critically high temperatures and blood pressure, and suffer from delusions, schizophrenia, hallucinations and muscle and kidney problems after coming down from the high.

The level of drug charge that bath salt possession brings can vary, depending on the circumstances of the case as well as the defendant’s previous record.

Any synthetic drugs that are chemically similar in structure to those banned are also outlawed, but some of today’s bath salts reportedly are a completely different structure–one that may or may not be illegal.

The symptoms of all types of bath salts tend to be the same. Users may become agitated or paranoid, have critically high temperatures and blood pressure, and suffer from delusions, schizophrenia, hallucinations and muscle and kidney problems after coming down from the high.

The level of drug charge that bath salt possession brings can vary, depending on the circumstances of the case as well as the defendant’s previous record.

A Colorado drug crimes defense attorney will usually first see whether the charges can be dropped or reduced. If not, for those who are charged with their first offense, it is usually important for a criminal defense attorney to look into any resolutions involving drug treatment programs and other measures. If it is a subsequent offense, it would be important for a defense attorney to follow a more aggressive strategy.

Some Additional Information on Bath Salts:

Nationally, bath salts use spiked from 304 cases in 2010 to 6,138 cases a year ago reported to poison control centers. The pace has slowed slightly this year, with 1,007 cases reported as of April 30, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. However, bath salts started as a trend in the South and Midwest, only recently becoming a problem in the Northeast, experts said.

Berry, who works at Crouse’s Chemical Dependency Treatment Service, said the high from bath salts takes about 20 minutes and lasts three to four hours. The drug is normally sniffed or snorted. It can also be injected. Users can experience flashbacks days later, like LSD.

Doctors stressed “bath salts” aren’t methamphetamine or cocaine or PCP.

It’s possibly more dangerous, because the community hasn’t built up a fear of them, Berry said.

“It’s marketed as a cute drug, with cute names,” Berry said. “It’s highly addictive. It appears to be marketed towards younger people.”

Bath salts are labeled “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” Vanilla Sky,” and “Bliss,” among others, according to WebMD.com. They are labeled “Not for human consumption” to circumvent more strict federal drug laws, experts said.

The same drug is also sold under the guise of plant fertilizer or plant food.

The containers say “lab-tested,” but they don’t say where.  Experts believe they are made in China. Berry said the containers in the park appeared to have an Asian language on them, but she’s not sure which one.

As a drug, bath salts are considered synthetic amphetamines. That’s the definition New York State used to outlaw “bath salts” last year, by banning the sale and distribution of MDPV, or methylenedioxypyrovalerone, and mephedrone. Those drugs were also added to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, meaning they cannot be used.

But it’s not clear that all containers marked “bath salts” contain the banned substances. Drug chemists often create new synthetic drugs to skirt laws. A state department of health spokesman said drugs that are “structurally-similar” to the original drug are banned, but new drugs also labeled “bath salts” would not be.

The drugs are so advanced that it’s hard for science and medicine to keep up with who are making these.

Poison control center also don’t know what specific structures these are.

Symptoms of Bath Salts Use

The symptoms of someone under these drugs remains the same, however. The patients are agitated and paranoid, often with very high critical temperatures and high blood pressure.

Sullivan has seen multiple patients come to the hospital under the influence of bath salts. They’re often speaking gibberish and want to rip off their clothing.

Some have body temperatures of 103 or 104 degrees. Others have superhuman strength — one man broke out of his handcuffs. Some are so worked up they’re given powerful sedatives that leave them unconscious and breathing on a ventilator, Sullivan said.

The drugs also leave users with severe side effects which may last days after the high. Patients return with delusions, schizophrenia, hallucinations, and muscle and kidney breakdown.

Experts say the scariest part is the unknown effects of the drug on young people — and its incredible addictiveness.

The New Bath Salts Law Summarized:

Under current law, cathinone (also known as “bath salts”) is listed as a Schedule I substance, along with drugs such as heroin, morphine, and mescaline. It is a felony to possess, distribute, manufacture, or sell any Schedule I drug, with the exception of marijuana. House Bill 12-1310 moves cathinones from the Schedule I list to the list of controlled substances.

The bill also changes the penalties for the possession or distribution of a cathinone as follows:

• reduces the penalty for a person who possesses any amount of cathinone from a class 4 felony (for more than four grams) or a class 6 felony (for less than four grams), to a class 1 misdemeanor;

• establishes a new class 3 felony for a person who distributes, manufactures, dispenses, or sells, or who induces, attempts to induce, or otherwise conspires to do the same for a cathinone; and

• creates a new civil penalty of between $10,000 and $500,000 for deceptive tradepractices by a person or entity that distributes, manufactures, sells, or purchases cathinones.

As is the case under current law, enhanced sentencing is permitted for distribution of cathinone products to a minor by an adult who is at least two years older than the minor.  

HERE Is The New Law:

18-18-406.7. unlawful possession of cathinones.

(1) it is unlawful for any person to possess any amount of any cathinones.

(2) a person who violates any provision of subsection (1) of This section commits a class 1 misdemeanor.

18-18-406.8. unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of cathinones.

(1) it is unlawful for any person to knowingly:

(a) distribute, manufacture, dispense, or sell, or to possess with intent to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or sell, any amount of any cathinones; or

(b) induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or sell, or Possess with intent to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or sell,any amount of any cathinones.

(2) a person who violates subsection (1) of this section Commits a class 3 felony and shall be sentenced as provided in Section 18-1.3-401; except that, unless a greater sentence is provided under any other statute, the person shall be sentenced to the department of corrections for a term of at least the minimum, but not more than twice the maximum, of the presumptive range provided for the offense in section 18-1.3-401 (1) (a) as modified pursuant to section 18-1.3-401 (10), if the person is at Least eighteen years of age and:

(a) distributed, dispensed, or sold; or possessed with intent to distribute, dispense, or sell; any amount of any cathinones to a minor under eighteen years of age who is at least two years younger than said person; or

(b) induced, attempted to induce, or conspired with one or more other persons to distribute, dispense, or sell any amount of any cathinones to a minor under eighteen years of age who is at least two years younger than said person. 


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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.
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