Are Bath Salts Legal in California?
MDPV, Mephedrone 4 (aka 4-MMC), and Methylone (M1), the key ingredients in “Bath Salts” are, as of this writing, are in legal limbo in California. However, earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has enacted their emergency authority to prohibit possession or sales of these compounds. The DEA has a year from the date of this “emergency hold” to decide whether or not to add bath salts to the list of Schedule I drugs. From the DEA press release on the subject:
A Notice of Intent to temporarily control was published in the Federal Register today to alert the public to this action. This alert is required by law as part of the Controlled Substances Act. In 30 days or more, DEA intends to publish in the Federal Register a Final Order to temporarily control these chemicals for at least 12 months, with the possibility of a six-month extension. The final order will be published in the Federal Register and will designate these chemicals as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category, which is reserved for unsafe, highly abused substances with no currently accepted medical use in the United States.
However in California, a recent law, codified under Health and Safety Code 11375.5, was just enacted which makes it illegal to sell/distribute/give away any “any synthetic stimulant derivative”, a misdemeanor offense. The target offense on this is going after stores who sell “bath salts.” However, simple possession of these synthetic stimulants is not a crime (not to be confused with the criminal possession of numerous other stimulants under Health and Safety Code 11377).
What is curious is the broad language in the statute. After all, California already has Health and Safety Code 11378 which makes it a straight felony to sell a wide variety of controlled substances, stimulants such as MDMA and Amphetamine are some examples of stimulants covered by this statute.
Additional weirdness in 11735.5 is the specific exclusion of MDPV, which has been banned in other states and is widely agreed to be the predominate and problematic compound in bath salts. The likely reason for this is that the legislature hopes that the ban on “any synthetic stimulant derivative” is enough to cover their bases when chemists undoubtedly figure out how to alter MDPV so that it is no longer MDPV, but an analog substance.
The Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg are criminal defense lawyers who represent people accused of drug crimes and all other felony and misdemeanor offenses.