You could be convicted of committing a drug crime when no drugs were involved. As per the California Health and Safety 109575 HS, it’s a misdemeanor to knowingly distribute or intend to distribute an imitation controlled substance. Under state law, the crime is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000. The statute makes it clear that upon a conviction, both a maximum jail term and maximum fine can be imposed.
The rationale behind the law
The legislature’s intent in enacting the statute wasn’t to protect buyers from buying fake drugs. It wasn’t to keep them from being defrauded either. The purpose of the statute is to protect those people from any harm that an imitation controlled substance might cause them.
What’s an imitation controlled substance?
An imitation controlled substance is something that looks like the real thing, but it’s actually fake. It’s specifically designed to look like the real thing too. From its appearance, an untrained person wouldn’t know the difference between the actual controlled substance and the imitation. The seller intends and expects the buyer to make a visual mistake as to the authenticity of the counterfeit controlled substance. The imitation controlled substance statute can also operate to deter fake drug users from using large amounts of the real drug when they get it. That can prevent overdoses.
federal law on the sale of counterfeit substances
Although you might have sold an imitation controlled substance in Los Angeles, you could be charged under federal law. It’s exponentially harsher than California law. Depending on the purported drug and the amount of it, penalties can be as severe as life in prison and a fine between $100,000 and $10 million.
There are several very viable defenses to the offense of selling imitation controlled substances. Some of those include:
Don’t confuse imitation products with synthetic products
As opposed to being visually mistaken for a real controlled substance, a synthetic controlled substance is made to have a close chemical similarity to a controlled substance while quite possibly not looking anything like it. In the context of synthetic products, there’s no intent to perpetrate a fraud on the buyers. Production of synthetic drugs is prohibited by both California and federal law.
Depending on whether you’re charged under California law or federal law, there can be a world of difference in sentencing. Even a misdemeanor conviction for the sale of an imitation controlled substance can indelibly harm your reputation and future though.
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