Imitation Controlled Substance (Marijuana) – NRS 453.321
Las Vegas is known to many as “Sin City,” and thousands of tourists visit every day and are looking to have a good time. However, there are individuals out there who present themselves as drug dealers, but are actually scammers, who sell fake drugs to these unsuspecting tourists.
In Las Vegas, there is always a chance that during the sales of drugs, imitation or otherwise, Metro police officers may be watching. If you are caught with imitation drugs, you will be charged and possibly arrested, just as you would for an actual controlled substance, because in Nevada it is a crime to sell or possess any substance designed to look like illegal drugs.
SELLING AN IMITATION CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE – MARIJUANA
Pursuant to NRS 453.332, it is unlawful to manufacture, distribute, or sell an imitation controlled substance. This offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 6 months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Selling real drugs is a felony offense. As such, this creates an incentive for individuals to sell fake drugs.
POSSESSING AN IMITATION CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE – MARIJUANA
Under subsection 4 of NRS 453.332, it is also a crime to possess an imitation controlled substance with the intent to use it. Possession of an imitation controlled substance is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2000 fine. Note that possession of a controlled substance is actually a more serious offense for the person buying than the person selling.
Advertising or Soliciting Imitation Drugs in Nevada – MARIJUANA
Nevada penalties get harsher with each conviction of advertising or soliciting imitation controlled substances. First and second time convictions are gross misdemeanors in Nevada. The penalties include up to one year and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
A third-time conviction of advertising or soliciting imitation controlled substances is a category C felony in Nevada. The punishment includes 1 – 5 years in Nevada State Prison; and up to $5,000 in fines
To be convicted of advertising or soliciting imitation drugs, it must be proven that the offender had “reasonable knowledge” that the advertisement was meant to promote the distribution of an imitation drug.
For example, a newspaper editor who had no reasonable knowledge that an ambiguous ad in their paper was actually promoting imitation drugs should not be convicted of advertising or soliciting imitation drugs.
ENHANCEMENT OF SENTENCE
Both selling and possessing imitation controlled substances can become felonies under certain circumstances. In particular, if a person selling fake drugs is over 18 and the person buying is under 18, the crime becomes a Category C felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in state prison. Regarding possession with intent to use, if you are convicted three separate times for this offense, the third time is a felony, punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison. It makes no difference if the offender was aware that the person he or she was giving the imitation drugs to was under 18. The offender would still be charged with a felony even if he or she genuinely belied the person to be 18 or older.
The defenses to Nevada charges involving imitation drugs are similar to those for fighting regular drugs charges. The three most common defense strategies include:
Illegal search. Law enforcement has a Constitutional duty to secure valid search warrants before conducting a search, or they must have a valid reason (probable cause) to conduct a warrantless search. If warrant regulations are violated during the investigation of a case involving imitation drugs, a motion to suppress evidence can be filed requesting that the judge exclude any damning information found from that unlawful search. If the motion is successful, the charges for imitation drugs may be dismissed.
No imitation drugs. Often police, when looking for illegal substances, can mistake innocent substances for imitation drugs. If it can be proven that the flour, baking soda, or bath salts for example, were never intended to be passed off as imitation drugs, the offender may have a chance of not being prosecuted.
No knowledge of the drugs. Police may also mistake someone for possessing imitation drugs when in fact he or she had no idea that the imitation drugs were even there. This most often happens in the home where more than on person has access to the imitation drugs.
For example, May and June are roommates in an apartment in Las Vegas and share a dresser in the living room, where May keeps imitation marijuana to sell unbeknownst to June. On an anonymous tip, Las Vegas Metro Police search the apartment and find the imitation marijuana. Since June is home, the police arrest her and book her at the jail. As long as the State cannot prove that June knew about the fake marijuana, she should not be convicted of possessing imitation drugs.
Bail amounts on charges of Imitation Controlled Substances depend on whether the crime is charge as a misdemeanor, or the Category felony but range from $1,000 to $10,000, to ‘No Bail,’ where the Court would need to set the bail after the defendant appears to answer the charge.
If you have been charged with a marijuana related offense, please call us at 702-405-0001 for a free consultation with an attorney.