COLUMBIA, SC — Following in the footsteps of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision to place a temporary ban on the sale and possession of the synthetic versions of popular street drugs, South Carolina’s Public Health Agency recently banned a number of previously legal compounds used to manufacture these products.
Referred to as “bath salts” and “spice,” the over-the-counter drugs received considerable national press in recent years as states began to ban the substances and the chemicals used to make them. The drugs were initially popularized as legal alternatives to cocaine and marijuana, and they are regularly sold at gas stations and neighborhood convenience stores.
The decision by the Department of Health and Environmental Control was an unusual move for the state agency because, typically, a state’s legislature creates laws to prohibit substances. But, the DHEC moved to address the substances following a spike in drug crimes cases involving the substances and at least one high-profile death involving use of the substances.
The decision by the DHEC to ban the substances will have a significant impact on individuals currently buying and selling bath salts and spice. The decision means that the previously legal products are now schedule-1 controlled substances, which makes the possession and sale of them illegal throughout South Carolina.
The ban also means that significant penalties, including possible felony charges, steep fines and significant jail time, may be imposed if someone is found in possession of the substances. The decision also grants state and local law enforcement officials the ability to make arrests even while the state legislature works to draft specific legislation banning the substances.
The ban followed a number of attempts by the federal government and fellow states to create legislation addressing synthetic drugs like bath salts. The DEA used emergency powers to implement its recent ban, and only months prior, it implemented a temporary ban on compounds found in synthetic marijuana.
The law went into effect immediately, and law enforcement officials made it clear that they intended to begin enforcing it immediately. If you are facing criminal charges related to bath salts or spice, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.