Monday, May 6, 2013

Giving Drugs to Kids An Aggravated Offense

The Texas House is scheduled to vote on a bill that will make dealing or giving drugs to kids an aggravated offense.

HB 3240 will create a new crime of "delivering controlled substances to a minor" if it passes is upcoming House vote and a subsequent Senate floor vote.

Once enacted into law, the act makes a new felony charge that may be applied in addition to other drug charges including trafficking. soliciting, possession and other drug related offenses if a minor is involved in the transaction. The bill defines a minor as anyone under the age of 18 or who is a student in a public or private primary or secondary school. It includes ANY controlled substance.

 (a)  A person commits an offense if the person knowingly delivers a controlled substance listed in a schedule by an action of the commissioner under this chapter but not listed in a penalty group to a person: 
             (1)  who is a child; 
             (2)  who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school; or 
             (3)  who the actor knows or believes intends to deliver the controlled substance to a person described by Subdivision (1) or (2).

The complete text of HB 3240 is available here.

Implications With Other New Legislation

On April 18, 2013, the Texas Senate passed two new bills regarding the classifications of illegal drugs. Given the House's passage of HB3240, both senate bills stand a high probability of passing the house as well.

SB 263 classifies "synthetic marijuana", in its many variations, as a class 2-A controlled substance. That would make it illegal to sell, transport or manufacture them in the state of Texas.

SB 264 reclassifies "ecstasy", "MDMA", "bath salts", and other similar substances as class 1A and class 2 controlled substances.

When HB 3240 passes the Texas Senate, providing any of the drugs listed in the above bills to a child will carry the additional felony charge of "delivering a controlled substance to a minor".

In the past several years, some of these drugs have become popular among children as well as professionals who must pass drug screenings as part of their employment contract. Without the law, testing for synthetic drugs such as "pot pourri" and "saliva" is not normally conducted. Most screenings look only for illicit drugs. Tests do already exist for these substances, though. Once the bills pass, screening for use will likely become common immediately.

Many tobacco and "head" shops carry the synthetic pot as a "legal alternative". Since it contains no nicotine or other controlled substance (such as alcohol), there is no age restriction for purchase. With the new laws, it will be illegal to sell to anybody. It will be an additional felony to sell the drugs to a minor.