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Facing drug charges in state and federal jurisdictions

When authorities go after individuals on suspicion of drug possession or distribution, it can become a double-barreled legal issue. That's because of the federal-state jurisdiction split that exists. Virginia individuals facing any sort of drug charges should be fully aware of the implications of this reality in order to develop the most effective defense possible.

This comes to mind because of news story coming out of Isle of Wight. It started with a police raid on a tobacco shop in Carrollton last fall. Authorities arrested four individuals in connection with the case. They were arrested on charges of suspicion of selling the synthetic marijuana product known as spice.

The product tends to be sold over the counter as incense, but is often smoked as a marijuana substitute. Efforts to crack down on spice and other products like it have been met with mixed results in court.

Earlier this month, three of the four suspects in the drug case were at the Isle of Wight courthouse and saw the local charges dropped. But even as that action was ending, they were arrested by federal agents on counts of conspiracy to possess and distribute analogues, that is, synthetic marijuana.

At the time this post is written there is no indication that any federal charges have been filed against the fourth original suspect in the case. He reportedly is still facing local charges stemming from the raid last fall. Charges include distribution of synthetic cannabinoids and conspiracy to commit a felony.

An Isle of Wight police spokesman didn't offer any explanation for why the split of jurisdiction took place in this case. It may have something to do with the fact that federal convictions of drug charges carry mandatory minimum sentences, even for first offenses.

Clearly, such charges should never be taken lightly.

Source: Daily Press, "Federal charges filed in Isle of Wight spice sting," Allison T. Williams, Jan. 17, 2013

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