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Wave of synthetic drugs worries lawmakers and police

Dangerous and extremely powerful synthetic drugs have police and lawmakers in North Carolina and around the country concerned. The makers of these substances frequently tinker with their formulations in order to stay one step ahead of federal and state drug laws, and this means that compounds that can have unpredictable effects on those who consume them are sometimes offered for sale openly in gas stations and convenience stores.

The federal government has categorized illegal drugs that are not processed prior to being consumed as naturals, and drugs that still closely resemble the plants they are based on are considered to be derivatives. Peyote and marijuana are examples of natural drugs and heroin and cocaine are derivatives. However, synthetic drugs are made in laboratories and bear little or no resemblance to substances found in nature, and they can cause those who take them to behave unpredictably and sometimes violently.

Synthetic drugs have been getting more potent and more dangerous since LSD became popular in the 1960s. Angel dust was considered a menace in American cities in the 1970s, and media reports about the drug often focused on the deranged behavior exhibited by those under its influence. Synthetic compounds like methamphetamine are often far more intoxicating that their natural or derivative alternatives, and a spate of violent episodes associated with synthetic compounds known as bath salts has prompted federal and state lawmakers to shorten the time it takes to ban new synthetic formulas.

Most criminal cases are settled by negotiated plea agreements, but persuading prosecutors to show leniency when drug charges are based on possessing or distributing substances with fearsome reputations can be challenging for defense attorneys. In these situations, attorneys could point out mitigating factors such as sincere regret and previous good behavior. They may also seek to have drug charges reduced or dismissed by questioning the validity of the probable cause or the legitimacy of the search warrants that resulted in the discovery and seizure of the drugs.

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