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Synthetic Marijuana Lands Edinburg Police Officer in Jail

In January ABC News 5 reported that Michael Anthony Moreno, a seven-year veteran of the Edinburg Police Department, and his sister have been arrested and are facing felony drug charges for selling synthetic marijuana out of a novelty store in Raymondville.

The store, which recently opened, sits directly next to the Ignite Charter School. A concerned citizen tipped police off after learning that drug paraphernalia was being sold so closed to a school. The city’s ordinance bans the sale of drug paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of school buildings. Upon searching Moreno’s store, the police found and confiscated over 21 pounds of synthetic marijuana, which was in plain sight in one of the store’s display cases.

Police believe that the officer was aware that the sale of the synthetic drug was illegal. Raymondville Police Sgt. Andres Maldonado says that Moreno went to the city’s tax department to advise them of his intent to sell and was “advised it wasn’t going to be legal.” Moreno’s store opened on Monday and was closed on Wednesday after the raid.

Synthetic Marijuana is Illegal to Sell or Possess in the State of Texas

In September of 2011, synthetic marijuana, some with brand names such as “K2,” “Kush,” and “Bob Marley,” became illegal to manufacture, sell, and/or possess in Texas. Senate Bill 331 not only illegalizes these synthetic drugs with similar effects as marijuana, it also provides criminal penalties for those caught manufacturing, possessing, or selling the substance. To date, April 2015, synthetic is still a problem in both Galveston and Harris Counties and is often still sold over the counter in head shops. It is common to have different packaging and names almost monthly!

Penalty for Possession

The penalties are the exact same as real marijuana…..Go figure.

A person has committed a Class B misdemeanor if found in possession of synthetic marijuana, a Penalty Group 2A drug, weighing two ounces or less and faces up to 180 days in jail along with a monetary fine up to $2,000.

When the weighed amount of the substance is between two and four ounces a Class A misdemeanor has been committed and the defendant faces up to one year of imprisonment and up to $4,000 in fines.

A person in possession of more than four ounces of the substance has committed a felony crime. Depending on the weight, including any additives, a person found in possession of the illegal substance could face up to life in prison and be fined up to $50,000.

The financial penalty doubles and five years are added if one is found in possession of the substance within 1,000 feet of a school, youth center, or playground, or on a school bus.

For first-time felony offenders of less than five ounces, the sentence may, at the discretion of the judge, be suspended and the defendant may be placed on community supervision through a deferred adjudication process.

An Attorney Can Help You

Have you been arrested for the manufacture, delivery, or possession of synthetic marijuana? We can help you defend you regardless of the stage of your case. We see this stuff all the time. Contact us at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Texas. Our attorneys are experienced in criminal defense and will mount a vigorous defense for you in Harris County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Brazoria County and the surrounding areas. You may reach us by calling (281) 280-0100.