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Sale of synthetic marijuana in Minnesota may lead to drug charge

As more States decriminalize marijuana and many other states openly discuss the issue, it may become difficult to keep track of whether marijuana use or possession is a crime. In Minnesota, the law is clear, the possession and sale of marijuana is a crime. What some Minnesotans may not know is that it is also illegal to possess or to sell synthetic marijuana.

If synthetic marijuana's illegality was not already known, a Minnesota tobacco store is now painfully aware of the law. Recently, police raided the tobacco shop, and seized almost a pound of synthetic marijuana, which retails at over $6,400. Police allege the synthetic marijuana was sold as herbal incense, but it is marketed as having the same effects as marijuana. Although no arrests have been made, some associated with the tobacco shop may face a drug charge.

Minnesota law classifies the sale of synthetic marijuana for compensation as a felony. If convicted, the seller could be sentenced to up to five years in jail, required to pay a fine up to $10,000 or both. However, if someone sells synthetic marijuana, but does not receive compensation, the seller can only be charged with a gross misdemeanor. The possession of synthetic marijuana is a misdemeanor and carries less severe penalties than the sale of synthetic marijuana.

It does not matter if someone facing a drug charge did not know that the sale or possession of synthetic marijuana is a crime in Minnesota, drug charges may still be filed. If facing a drug charge, it is important to know the law and any defenses that may be available.

Source: Isanti County News, "Synthetic marijuana seized at North Branch tobacco shop," Jon Tatting, June 19, 2013.