Controlled Substance Analogues Crimes in Maryland

The use and availability of new synthetic drugs have increased over the last few years. The designer drugs often have innocent names like “bath salts,” “spice,” and “smiles.” These synthetic drugs can often be purchased at convenience stores or smoke shops and are widely available over the Internet.

Criminal enforcement of the possession and sale of these substances is difficult because the manufacturers can elude legal bans on products by making slight changes to their chemical structures. Many critics of the Federal Analogue Act argues that its “substantially similar” standard is vague and that the requirement that the substance is intended for human consumption can be easily countered by a person facing prosecution since substances like bath salts are often packaged and marketed as beauty products.

Many critics of the Federal Analogue Act argues that its “substantially similar” standard is vague and that the requirement that the substance is intended for human consumption can be easily countered by a person facing prosecution since substances like bath salts are often packaged and marketed as beauty products.


A Common CSA – Synthetic Cannabinoid

Some synthetic cannabinoids are illegal in the State of Maryland under the definition of cannabimimetic agents, and as a result of the federal Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic cannabinoids are man-made, mind-altering chemicals that are sprayed on dried plant material to be smoked or are vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices (e.g., liquid incense).

The chemicals are referred to as “cannabinoids” because they are related to chemicals found in marijuana. Synthetic cannabinoids may also cause some effects that are similar to the effects of marijuana, such as elevated mood, relaxation, altered perception, and symptoms of psychosis. Psychotic effects include anxiety, confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations.

In 2015, Maryland had the fifth-highest number of calls (350 calls) for synthetic cannabinoid-related calls to U.S. poison centers. One year before, the Maryland Poison Center reports that there were 90 calls related to synthetic cannabinoids. The American Association of Poison Control Centers also reports a national surge in the number of synthetic cannabinoid-related calls across the country in the last few years.

Prosecution for Synthetic Cannabinoid Crimes in Maryland

“Synthetic cannabinoid” means a synthetic chemical compound that is a cannabinoid receptor agonist and that mimics the pharmacological effect of a naturally occurring cannabinoid or a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) listed in Schedule I or Schedule II.

The definition includes a substance or an analogue of a substance that is designed, generated, or recombined to create a new structure using a three-component pharmacophore model and that contains one or more pharmacophores or components of a CDS listed in Schedule I or Schedule II. The definition does not include any drug approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

On July 9, 2012, President Obama signed the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012. which bans compounds found in synthetic stimulants, synthetic marijuana, and synthetic hallucinogens. These designer drugs are on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of Schedule I controlled dangerous substances, making it a federal crime to manufacture, possess, distribute, import, or export these chemicals or products containing them.

In announcing the signing of the Act, the Office of National Drug Control Policy encouraged states that have not already done so to incorporate these substances into their state drug schedules “to ensure that state law enforcement agencies have full authority to act against these substances.”

In 2013, Maryland enacted Chapter 442, adding “cannabimimetic agents,” also referred to as “Spice,” “synthetic marijuana,” or “K2,” to the State’s list of Schedule I controlled dangerous substances.

“Cannabimimetic agents” are defined as substances that are cannabinoid receptor type 1 agonists as demonstrated by binding studies and functional assays within one of the several listed structural classes and are listed as Schedule I substances. Thus, some synthetic cannabinoids as defined under the bill may already be illegal under State law.

Under federal law, a “controlled substance analogue” means a substance:

  1. with a chemical structure that is substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance in Schedule I or II;
  2. which has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance in Schedule I or II; or
  3. that is represented by or intended by a person to have a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled substance in Schedule I or II.

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Federal Analogue Act

Under 18 U.S.C. § 813, also referred to as the Federal Analogue Act, a controlled substance analogue must be treated for the purposes of any federal law as a Schedule I controlled substance if the substance is intended for human consumption. Under the State’s Schedule I statute, a “controlled dangerous substance analogue” means a substance that:

  1. has a chemical structure substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I or Schedule II and (2) that has a stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system that is substantially similar to or greater than the stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system of a controlled dangerous substance listed in Schedule I or Schedule II. “Controlled dangerous substance analogue” does not include (1) a CDS;
  2. a substance for which there is an approved new drug application; or (3) a substance exempted for investigational use under § 506 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

To the extent intended for human consumption, each CDS analogue is a substance listed in Schedule I.


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Attorney for “Controlled Substance Analogues” in Baltimore, Maryland

James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates have more than two decades of experience defending people in the state of Maryland against many state charges including serious drug crimes in Baltimore, MD. Our Lawyers know the tactics used by the law enforcement officers and prosecutors to convict those charged and can protect your reputation.

The attorneys at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and operate four offices for your convenience, including the main office in Catonsville and Arbutus, MD.

If you have been arrested for in the malicious destruction of property in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County or Harford, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates.

Call 443-709-9999 to talk about your case with an experienced drug crime attorney in Baltimore, MD, about your best defense to the criminal charges.