Synthetic Drug Law Changes

Recently I have been asked to consult with several families who have loved ones who have been convicted and incarcerated for Federal Criminal offenses involving synthetic controlled substances, specifically synthetic marijuana or cannabinoids, commonly known as ‘Kush’.

These families have heard rumors of changes to the way Federal Courts will treat these drugs under the United States Sentencing Guidelines and were hoping that certain sentences would be reduced.  These rumors are the result of proposed guideline changes regarding the equivalency ratio used for setting Base Offense Levels for synthetic cannabinoids and their analogues.  There have been differences in how the courts have calculated these ratios depending on whether the synthetic was scheduled or was merely an analogue.  Some courts, and some United States Courts of Appeals have applied a ratio of 1 gram of synthetic/ analogue being treated as 7 grams of actual marijuana, whereas others have applied the current guideline ratio of 1 gram being treated as 167 grams of marijuana to both scheduled and analogue substances.    The United States Sentencing Commission has recently released a proposed amendment to the Drug Equivalency Table which would treat all synthetic cannabinoids, both scheduled as well as analogues consistently.  The proposed amendment would result in all substances being subjected to the 1 to 167 gram ratio currently applied to scheduled synthetic cannabinoids.  This change has not taken effect yet, but will likely be adopted and included in the United States Sentencing Guidelines for 2018, which will be released in November of 2018.  For the Sentencing Commissions complete report on this proposed amendment you can look here https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/amendment-process/reader-friendly-amendments/20180125_rf_proposed.pdf.  The specific proposed amendment is in Part B of the Synthetic Drug Amendment.

If you have further questions about how this amendment may affect you or a loved one who is facing charges involving synthetic marijuana please contact our offices for a consultation on how we may be able to help."

Jake StevenNathan J Mays