Synthetic/Designer Drugs in the Spotlight


For as long as history books can recall, it has been human instinct to engage in market activities.  From exchanging food for rocks, to trading spices for property, to creating paper currency with which to purchase products, to the global stock market in which we now live, humans have always come up with creative ways to earn a buck.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with businesses trying to create an environment in which they can thrive; there is, however, a major problem when a business produces a product that inflicts injuries on others.

The issue of product liability is far-reaching.  As per modern tort laws, the manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and retailers can be among those held liable for the damages that their products cause to consumers.  As far as product liability goes, there are three general subcategories of liability and they are as follows:

1.  Manufacturing Defect: this occurs when, during the manufacturing process, designs aren’t properly followed and/or the assembly process is less-than adequate.

2.  Design Defect: this occurs when there is a design issue with the product, i.e. that it was defective by design, and the danger can be tied to the design, not to the manufacturing.

3.  Marketing Defect: this is the case when the marketing of a given product fails to acknowledge a true danger associated with the product, or implies something about the product that is not actually true.

Product liability lawsuits arise from a wide-variety of products, including but certainly not limited to, tires, brakes, engines, shoes, coffeemakers, chairs, beds, guns, hammers, etc.  The list truly does go on and on, in a never-ending way, as new, harmful products are created and sold every day.  However, there is one new product in particular that has been getting a lot of buzz (no pun intended) in legal circles (both criminal and civil).  Currently, our country maintains strict drug laws that make it a criminal act to sell, possess or use illicit drugs.  Many states have, in recent years, taken actions to make the use of marijuana for legitimate medical purposes legal.  However, in most states, and for most people, accessing marijuana is both dangerous and risky.  Because of this, new, synthetic designer drugs have hit the markets and filled the shelves in head shops and tobacco stores around the nation.

These synthetic drugs, commonly referred to as bath salts or Spice, try to imitate illicit drugs like cocaine and marijuana, respectively.  Because the synthetic drugs aren’t technically cocaine or marijuana, their sale has been, for the most part, unregulated—until now.  In recent times, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has cracked down on the production, distribution and sale of the drugs which have turned out to be incredibly dangerous, leading to multiple deaths around the country.  Not only are these man-assembled chemicals dangerous, they’re also fairly undisclosed.  On the packages for the synthetic drugs, the manufacturers boast terms such as “natural” or “derived from plants,” etc.  While there are natural components of the drugs, the most poignant parts are scientifically-organized, man-made chemicals that are sprayed on top of the natural components in an effort to make the drug look  like the drug that it attempts to imitate.

The mother of one of the victims of synthetic marijuana is suing the tobacco store at which her son bought the synthetic marijuana.  She wants to hold the store, and the company behind it, liable for the death of her son.  After all, it was their product that caused his death.  This should be an open-and-close case of product liability, in terms of manufacturing defect, design defect, and, perhaps most importantly, marketing defect.

For any questions pertaining to the legality of these dangerous synthetic drugs, please contact us at 561-266-9191 or email us at

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