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Should Shops Selling Synthetics Face More Severe Punishment?

Should Shops Selling Synthetics Face More Severe Punishment?

Somewhere in every state there are shops set up on one corner or another in nearly every neighborhood selling synthetic drugs. The topic may not be new, but for one state the punishment for distributing such substances just got more serious as legislators try to get a grip on the stuff flooding the market and crushing the community.

With this new development it seems the D.C. authorities are trying to push for holding store owners responsible for the damage done by these drugs. Is this need norm fair, or should we take it further?

Dangers Hitting D.C.

The District of Columbia has seen its fair share of synthetic drug abuse since the scourge of street-grade chemical warfare started up, and according to recent reports the situation has reached new heights that have provoked more stern action from state officials.

According to local authorities, in just one week a woman abandoned a baby in a stroller alongside a busy street in D.C. and a young man who was reportedly a college student just one year prior shocked people in a horrific incident where he stabbed a passenger on a Metro train 30 to 40 times!

What was the common denominator? Police have reported both subjects were suspected to have been using the same drug: synthetic marijuana. Given the volatile and unpredictable nature of these chemical compounds, this logic doesn’t seem too flawed.

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Kevin Donahue attributed a recent spike in crime in D.C. in part to the use of synthetic drugs, stating that almost 40% of people arrested in relations to violent crimes have synthetic drugs in their system.

Notorious by Nature

The most troubling aspect we have repeatedly seen is that these drugs are being sold not just on the streets, but in gas stations and liquor stores by business owners who may or may not have the slightest idea what chemicals are in them and what they can do.

These hallucinogens are potent and branded by several names which may often change to avoid suspicion such as:

  • K2
  • Scooby Snax
  • Bizarro
  • Spice
  • Fake Weed

The drugs have various side-effects as well, and while the chemicals frequently change to avoid detection the side-effects may vary. Some of the adverse effects include:

  • Severely altered mentality
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Death

Shaking Up Store Owners

The newest legislation put together by officials in D.C. has been designed to establish stricter guidelines and penalties for businesses caught selling synthetic drugs in the state of Washington, with hopes that this newly instilled prosecution will scare store owners away from the drug dealing business.

Synthetic drugs are illegal in D.C. and Mayor Muriel Bowers signed a brand new law entitled “Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015” this past Friday, and with it permits the D.C. government, police, and Districts Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to take stronger action against businesses caught distributing synthetic drugs.

Under this new rule of law, police now have the authority to shut down these businesses for 96 hours, and any establishment caught with synthetic drugs will face a few strikes:

  • Strike 1- business will be fined $10,000 for first offense
  • Strike 2- business can lose its business license for second offense

So depending on where you weigh in on this discussion, you may see this as a fair enough assessment of the damage with a solid effort to keep store owners accountable. Some may think this is a light-touch considering the lives devastated by these synthetic drugs, but then we have to ask the same question being presented constantly in these cases: what constitutes a reasonable knowledge of a substances danger?

With this debate the argument in defense of dealers, allegedly accidental in many cases, is that they did not know the customers were using the drugs to get high (because who does that?), or they did not know what was in the drug to make it dangerous. So is it fair to close down a business for selling something they don’t understand?

Personal opinion: I ask why you would sell something you don’t understand. Sure you don’t know every single ingredient for every product, or every element used in it and its exact function… but come on, with stuff like K2 and Spice it is a different ball game. Selling synthetic drugs as a ‘safe high’ should be punished with strict resolve. So far D.C.’s plan seems legit, so hopefully it works. But then I wonder if it should be a harsher penalty thinking of the lives affected when these drugs hit the streets.

Synthetic drugs are not a ‘safe high’ as often falsely advertised. They tend to be linked to terrifying and bizarre crimes, and as with most drugs they have a strong contribution to destruction and even death in many lives. There is hope for recovery, and there are people out there willing to help people struggling with synthetic drugs to restore their lives. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588

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