Most California drivers are well-aware of the fact that it’s against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol. Fewer people are aware that it’s also illegal to drive under the influence of controlled substances, which include lawfully prescribed medications, marijuana, and illegal street drugs, such as LSD, heroin and cocaine.
But what about synthetic drugs, such as synthetic marijuana, also known as “K2” or “Spice”? Is it illegal to drive under the influence of synthetic marijuana? Before we answer this common question, first let’s take a look at what synthetic marijuana actually is.
“Synthetic cannabinoids refer to a growing number of manmade mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant materials so they can be smoked (herbal incense) or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices (liquid incense),” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Wasn’t Spice Legal at One Time?
For years, synthetic marijuana has been readily available at gas stations, smoke shops and novelty stores. It's also been easy to purchase over the Internet. “Because the chemicals used in them have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, authorities have made it illegal to sell, buy, or possess some of these chemicals,” says the NIDA.
On August 18, 2015, U.S. News & World Report published an article entitled, “The Dangers of Synthetic Marijuana.” In the article, it said that during March of 2015, “without warning, many young men came to the hospital acting extremely violent and confused,” said Howard Forman, the author of the article. Forman continued, “They all used synthetic marijuana, which, although similar in name, is different from the marijuana you’re probably familiar with.” The article went on to explain how Spice is not only dangerous, it’s easy to obtain.
While it’s illegal to possess synthetic marijuana under state and federal law, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of Spice or K2 under Section 23152(f) of the California Vehicle Code. So, can you get a DUI for driving under the influence of synthetic marijuana or Spice? Yes, absolutely. You can also face drug possession charges for Spice.