Prosecutors Must Prove Synthetic Drug Sellers Know Substance Was Banned


People accused of selling synthetic drugs can’t be convicted unless prosecutors show they knew the substance was prohibited by law, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously today, the Associated Press reports. The justices ruled in favor of Stephen McFadden, a New York City man convicted of supplying bath salts to a store in Virginia.

Law enforcement officials say bath salts are part of a new wave of synthetic drugs designed to produce a high but have slight chemical modifications that keep them off state and federal banned drug lists. An appeals court ruled it was enough for a jury to find McFadden intended the bath salts for human consumption. McFadden argued that the government had to prove he knew the bath salts were similar in both chemical structure and effect to a controlled substance.

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