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Flakka Continuously Makes News in Florida

Synthetic drugs are a prominent problem within the state of Florida. With high rates or addiction and a lack of awareness among the public, legislators and law enforcement agencies struggle to fight against this growing risk.

The Sun Sentinel recently reported about a woman who is expected to plead guilty to participating in a synthetic drug importation ring. The drug in question is flakka, which is a flooding the streets of Florida. According to the report, London-based Drug Enforcement Administration agents conducted an investigation, where shipments of flakka were intercepted between Hong Kong and the United States. Agents reportedly posed as delivery drivers and completed the shipment, which was allegedly sent to the woman in custody. Court records reportedly state that she will plead guilty.

What is Flakka?

“Flakka” is a cheap synthetic drug, costing about $5 per vial. This lower cost contributes to its growing popularity on the streets, along with ability to order it through the mail from foreign countries. According to reports, the number of positive tests in Florida rose by more than 70% between 2013 and 2015. Individuals can smoke, inject or swallow this manufactured drug, which creates an amphetamine-like stimulation similar to cocaine, meth and bath salts.

Common side effects of usage include:

  • Delusions;
  • Nightmarish hallucinations;
  • Elevated body temperature;
  • Psychosis;
  • Agitation; and
  • Rapid heart rate.

Users often act erratically, stripping naked and attacking those around them. They generally believe that their speed and strength is elevated.

Law enforcement agencies recently met in Florida to discuss the prevalence of flakka and how to best manage it. According to a WTXL TV, nearly 40 deaths occurred within the last year as a result of the drugs’ usage. Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young is quoted in the article as stating, “When you are dealing with the addicts who are actually taking these drugs, they have a medical problem. So, instead of arresting these folks, we have to get them to a medical center.”

What the Law Says

Synthetic drugs, like flakka, are generally made to circumvent drug laws. Manufacturers can change a single molecule of the drug to create an entirely new substance. It is against the law to possess, manufacture or sell specifically identified synthetic drugs, which are designated as Schedule I drugs, because of their high rate of addiction and abuse.

The Florida statute lists the following potential punishments:

  • Possession of less than 3 grams is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor with a possible punishment of up to one year in jail; and
  • Possession of more than 3 grams is classified as a third-degree felony with a possible punishment of up to five years imprisonment.

In defending a synthetic drug allegation, a capable attorney understands that these charges often criminalize individuals who are medically responsible, instead of criminally responsible.

If you or a loved has been charged with possession of a synthetic drug, call Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group in Tampa at (813) 803-6518 for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys can provide you with an aggressive defense in a court of law.

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