Texas residents may have read media reports about synthetic drugs with street names including bath salts and spice. A list of banned substances is maintained by federal authorities, but narcotics makers often alter the formulas of their products in order to skirt the rules and offer intoxicating compounds legally. Federal lawmakers generally act quickly to reclassify these dangerous drugs, and state legislators have also passed laws banning substances like cannabinoids and cathinones.
There are three basic types of illegal drugs. Substances like peyote and marijuana that are generally not processed before being consumed are known as natural drugs, and compounds such as cocaine and heroin are known as derivatives because they still closely resemble the plants they are based on. The third category are known as synthetic drugs, and they are made following complex chemical formulas and bear little resemblance to any substances found in nature. Examples of synthetic drugs include methamphetamine, MDMA and LSD.
The problem for law enforcement is that synthetic drugs that have yet to be banned are sometimes offered for sale in regular retail stores. Those who consume these unregulated substances have been known to cause harm to either themselves or others, and many have gone on violent rampages after taking them.
Experienced criminal defense attorneys would likely advise their clients to avoid any chemical substances that have been produced in unregulated environments, but they could also seek to have drug charges dropped when the substance concerned was purchased legally in a grocery or convenience store. When defendants have been found in possession of banned substances, attorneys may seek to have the penalties or charges reduced by pointing out mitigating factors during plea discussions. Prosecutors often struggle under the weight of heavy caseloads, and they may be prepared to show leniency in return for a speedy conclusion even when their evidence appears strong.