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Synthetic Drug Raids Target Area Businesses

One year after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a law officially banning bath salts, K2 and other synthetic designer drugs, police have raided nine area shops for reportedly continuing to sell them.

Pittsburgh criminal defense attorneys know that the newness of the substance - and the law - might throw some off-guard. It's important to understand that the law signed by the governor last year, which went into effect in August of last year, makes it a felony to sell the drug or intend to sell the drug, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Possession alone is punishable by up to a year of incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, area undercover officers have been purchasing the drug from stores during the last six months.

Known as "K2," or "Spice" or "bath salts," these are synthetic chemical compounds, sometimes referred to as "designer drugs," that are often manufactured overseas. A number of packets seized in this batch were reportedly from mainland China.

According to authorities, a number of head shops and convenience stores were selling the drugs under the label "herbal incense." As of this writing, no arrests have been made, but that is a distinct possibility.

What's happening now is officers are working to inventory the evidence and information. It's been reported that they have filled a U-Haul truck full of evidence.

They will likely run chemical tests on the seized compounds.

The packets are clearly labeled with an indication that they are not for human consumption, but authorities say vendors may simply be exploiting a loophole.

If defense attorneys in these cases don't negotiate some form of a plea deal, they may choose to focus on the actual chemical make-up of the products being sold, and whether it meets the criteria for the compounds that were specifically banned under state law.

When consumed, the chemicals reportedly induce respiratory problems, vomiting, erratic behavior and paranoia.

The two-month investigation was sparked after police began to notice a rise in the number of individuals suffering the effects of the drug.

Categories: drug charges
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