House Passes New Anti-Drug Bills

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Criminal Lawyers at Bloom Legal Analyze the Impact of New Anti-Drug Bills on Sentencing for Drug Users.

The Louisiana House of Representatives passed a series of anti-drug bills last month, one of which targets 25-I, a dangerous synthetic drug that was allegedly responsible for the death of a student during last year’s Voodoo Festival. House Bill 10, which is to become effective August 1, 2013, makes it a criminal act to manufacture, distribute, or possess 25-I and more than two dozen other synthetic drugs. The criminal attorneys at Bloom Legal say that the passage of this bill will impact sentencing for drug possession in New Orleans, as new and dangerous drugs become widespread among young drug users.

During a night of drinking and partying at the 2012 Voodoo Festival in City Park, Louisiana, Clayton Otwell, a 21-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, suffered a seizure and began babbling incoherently less than 30 minutes after accepting a drop of 25-I from a stranger, the Times-Picayune Greater New Orleans reported last year in the article “21-year-old dies after one drop of new synthetic drug at Vodoo Fest.” Emergency medical services were unable to revive Otwell from the resulting coma at the festival, and he died three days later. A local doctor later told reporters that Otwell was one of three people treated at that hospital for overdoses of the quick-acting drug during the festival. All three young people had reportedly never taken the drug before, according to the subsequent Times-Picayune Greater New Orleans article. Additionally the article mentioned that 25-I was a relatively unknown synthetic hallucinogen at that time, and dealers were marketing the drug to festival attendees as artificial LSD or mescaline.

Also known as N-Bomb and Smiles, 25-I is chemically similar to LSD and Ecstasy, but its effects on users are vastly different than those of its illegal drug relatives, New Orleans criminal attorneys report. 25-I and the other banned synthetic drugs have inherent risks because they are man-made, usually by amateur chemists or drug users with little understanding of chemical procedures. According to the National Synthetic Drugs Action plan, manufacturers of synthetic drugs are usually motivated by profit, and fail to run the homemade drugs through any kind of controlled tests to gauge possible effects on users, instead distributing samples of the drugs at festivals and concerts. Sellers of these drugs also target a vulnerable age group—young teens and college students.

House Bill 10 adds 25-I and the other synthetic drugs on the market to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I of the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law. In order to make the Schedule I list, the DEA specifies that drugs must have a high potential to be abused, have no accepted medical benefits, and have no accepted safety uses under medical supervision. By law, it is illegal to make, sell, or possess with intent to distribute any Schedule I drugs, controlled or counterfeit. Another popular drug, synthetic cannabis, known to dealers and users as K-2 or Spice, has been included in Louisiana’s new laws, New Orleans criminal lawyers say. The Congressional Research Services lists the penalties for making or selling these synthetic drugs. Penalties include the possibility of life in jail, and fines up to $50,000. Persons caught using these drugs face a possible jail sentence of four to 20 years, depending on the substance, and fines up to $5,000.

About Bloom Legal:
Since 2004, Louisiana residents have been turning to Bloom Legal, a New Orleans-based law firm, for their legal needs. Seth Bloom, a leading criminal attorney in New Orleans, has successfully defended criminals from drug crimes and other criminal charges in Louisiana.
Bloom Legal
700 Camp Street
Suite 210
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130
(o) 504.599.9997 | (f) 504.595.3208

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