Federal prosecutors have accused a 38-year-old California man of selling synthetic marijuana worth about $1 million on the internet. The Pacific Beach resident is facing three counts of conspiring to distribute illegal drugs. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted on all counts. A 39-year-old Florida man has also been taken into custody in connection with the scheme. A press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York does not reveal what may have brought the men to the attention of the authorities.
Prosecutors claim that the men sold synthetic marijuana, which is also known as K2 or Spice, to customers all over the United States between February 2014 and June 2018. The transactions are said to have taken place on three websites operated by the men. According to reports, the drugs were marketed to a predominantly young clientele.
Reports indicate that federal agents investigating the case executed search warrants at the man's Ocean Boulevard bungalow and a Pacific Beach storage facility. Synthetic marijuana is often portrayed in the media as a relatively safe alternative to cannabis, but its production is unregulated and studies have found that it can be deadly. The substance can either be smoked or consumed using electronic vaporizing devices.
Multi-agency investigations and federal drug prosecutions are extremely expensive, and prosecutors may be reluctant to take their chances in court and risk coming away with nothing. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may remind federal prosecutors about the unpredictability of juries during plea negotiations, and they could encourage them to reduce the severity of drug charges in return for a swift resolution.
Source: NBC New San Diego, "Pacific Beach Man Accused of Selling $1M-Worth of Synthetic Drug, Spice", Artie Ojeda, July 6, 2018
Source: U.S. District Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, "California And Florida Men Charged With Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids Over The Internet", Press release, June 27, 2018