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Search and seizure hampered by newest drug paraphernalia

It is not unusual for state and federal drug laws to be a step behind those individuals who engage in drug trafficking and drug manufacturing. For example, synthetics are produced in laboratories instead of being grown in fields. Synthetic drugs such as K2 are marketed on the street as a chemical substitute for marijuana. In some cases, the synthetic drugs are available at a cost that is less than what is charged for the real thing.

One of the problems with drugs produced in chemistry labs is that the side effects can be deadly. Florida emergency rooms have seen an increase in overdoes attributed to synthetics. Another issue that police and federal law enforcement agencies are struggling with has to do with detecting drug use and drug possession.

The popularity of vaporizer pens, or e-cigarettes, has created a law enforcement problem. The devices operate by heating substances placed in them to create an inhalable vapor. Synthetic drugs, because they are nothing more than combinations of chemical compounds, can be undetectable to police. One police official commented that people could use a vaporizer pen to get high on a synthetic drug without alerting a police officer standing right there as to what was going on. The reason is that chemicals can be added to mask the odor.

Because they cannot smell or otherwise detect the synthetics in vaporizer pens, law enforcement officials cannot resort to a search and seizure because of the lack of probable cause. Current laws will not allow a police officer to seize a vaporizer pen unless he or she has fact-support knowledge that it is being used to ingest illegal substances.

It is only a matter of time before drug possession and drug manufacturing laws change to catch up with the latest trends. A Tampa criminal defense attorney is person’s best source of legal advice on current drug offenses and the rights of individuals charge with violating the laws.

Source: CNN, “Vaping: The latest scourge in drug abuse,” Sara Ganim and Scott Zamost, Sept. 5, 2015

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