Understanding the Synthetic Analogue

What is an analogue or synthetic drug? They are often referred to as “designer drugs,” and are typically found at gas stations and convenience stores. The Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986 defines analogue drugs as those where the chemical structure of the synthetic drug is substantially similar to that of controlled illicit substances.  Generally, these analogue drugs have similar effects to stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs often experienced with controlled illicit substances that are found in schedule I or II. Bath salts and K2 are just a couple of the most prevalent analogue drugs that you hear about today.

The Analogue Act is a difficult statute to understand, so that is why having the right lawyer is even more important. Recently, the Supreme Court in United States v. McFadden, tackled whether the statute was constitutional. The Supreme Court ultimately found that the Analogue Act was constitutional, however the Court reinforced the “knowledge” requirement in the statute. The Court determined that the knowledge requirement may be met in two ways: (1) by showing that the defendant knew he/she possessed a controlled substance, regardless of whether he/she knew the particular identity of the substance; or (2) the defendant knew the specific analogue or the identity of the substance he possessed, even if he did not know its legal status as an analogue. Even though the Supreme Court clarified some of the issues with the statute, the Analogue Act is still difficult to dissect. Having the right lawyer is crucial in having effective representation.

Therefore, these types of crimes should not be taken lightly as such federal crimes are inherently more complex in nature, involve serious criminal acts and then the possibility of serious penalties. In fact, in these cases, the penalties that one may face can be just as harsh as those related to the possession or distribution of the actual drug. These cases are especially difficult as they tend to be very technical in nature, and may require the expertise of a chemist to analyze the substance molecules.  Due to the complex nature of these cases, a keen understanding of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, applicable statute, as well as access to a host of legal resources all are needed to protect your interests.