H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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Ignorance Of New Law – No Defense to “Spice” Synthetic Marijuana Prosecutions In Colorado

As a result of some major publicity by a local television station and their investigation of certain types of so called synthetic marijuaua in 2011 – the Colorado State Legislature introduced and passed legislation to outlaw the manufacture – sale and even the possession of the synthetic substance.

Since the enactmenton of the law on July 1, 2011 – synthetic cannabinoids have been illegal to sell in Colorado. Substances like “Spice” and “K2” are known to act like marijuana but are created with synthetic chemicals.

The products were – and apparently still are – sold at various retail outlets and gas stations in Colorado.

In a report in the Denver Post last summer a spokesperson for certain Colorado Drug Task Forces confirmed that law enforcement was taking a slow approach to enforcing th new law.

“We need to enforce the law, but we also want to be responsible and not play a ‘gotcha’ game with people that are inadvertently selling this and they just don’t know better.”

But that is changing.


Recent Arrest In Denver Focuses on Gas Station Owner

As a result of a recent arrest of a gas station owner and employee – who sold spice to the public and also to high school students at East High School – the public was reminded of the alleged dangers of spice by the state legislator who introduced the law – Mike Kopp:

“Synthetic cannabinoids ….(spice) “behave substantially differently in a person’s brain, and it absolutely should be seen as a controlled substance. There’s a charade that has taken place, and frankly, it’s a pretty dangerous one, where spice is sold as incense. But it’s sprayed with any of five different kinds of chemicals. The odd thing is, none of these chemicals add any odor whatsoever. The only thing they do is serve to produce a high that has landed kids in the hospital with violent hallucinations.”

Here Is The New Spice – K2 Law in Colorado

18-18-406.2. Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale, or cultivation of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum.

(1) It is unlawful for any person knowingly to:

(a) Manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, or to possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, any amount of any synthetic cannabinoid or salvia divinorum;

(b) Induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons, to manufacture, dispense, sell, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, any amount of any synthetic cannabinoid or salvia divinorum; or
(c) Cultivate salvia divinorum with intent to dispense, sell, or distribute any amount of the salvia divinorum.

(2) A person who violates any provision of subsection (1) of this section commits a class 5 felony.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (2) of this section, a person who violates any provision of subsection (1) of this section by dispensing, selling, or distributing any amount of any synthetic cannabinoid or salvia divinorum commits a class 4 felony if the person:

(a) Dispenses, sells, or distributes the synthetic cannabinoid or salvia divinorum to a minor who is less than eighteen years of age; and
(b) Is at least eighteen years of age and at least two years older than said minor.

(4) As used in this section, “dispense” does not include labeling, as defined in section 12-22-102 (16), C.R.S.

Source: L. 2011: Entire section added, (SB 11-134), ch. 261, p. 1139, Section 2, effective July 1, 2011 .
Editor’s note: Section 5 of chapter 261, Session Laws of Colorado 2011, provides that the act adding this section applies to offenses committed on or after July 1, 2011.