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New Texas synthetic drug law addresses shortcomings in 2011 law, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about a measure recently passed by Texas lawmakers that seeks to address the problem of synthetic marijuana throughout the state. In particular, the measure was intended to address a limitation in a previously passed law, under which prosecutors were unable to secure convictions for the sale, manufacture and use of synthetic cannabinoids.

Under the new state law, there are two bases on which prosecutors can secure a conviction for the sale, manufacture or use of a synthetic drug. The first of these is that the chemical has a chemical structure which is “substantially similar” to the chemical structure of a controlled substance. The second is that the drug is designed to have an effect which is “substantially similar” to “or greater than” a controlled substance. 

Essentially, the new law—which goes into effect this September—expanded the list of banned drugs, making it possible for prosecutors to target the newest synthetic drugs that have been developed, as well as variants that are substantially similar. These formulas, of course, are always changing, and lawmakers will have to continue to update the law to keep pace with the newer formulas.

For those who are accused of charges under the new law, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to build an appropriate defense to ensure that prosecutors are held to their full burden of proof. This is particularly important where the drugs in question are not specifically designated under state law and arguably fall outside its coverage. 

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