If a Drug is Not Illegal, Can I Be Arrested?


When people think of drug crimes, they think of the major ones such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and even prescription drugs that are used without a prescription. However, there are a lot of substances that can alter your mind out there, and not all of them are illegal in every state. With the advent of so-called “designer drugs,” there are more legal substances out there every day as the state laws struggle to keep up with criminalizing them. However, can you be punished by the law for possessing a substance that alters your mind or behavior, but is not technically illegal under the state law?

Minnesota has been particularly diligent in its criminalization of such mind-altering substances. An example is the case of salvia, a drug said to have a similar effect as marijuana. In many states, there is a blind spot to salvia possession, sale, and use. However, Minnesota criminalized it in 2010. The state also has similar laws for glue, nitrous oxide, and other inhalants that are used outside their intended legal use.

However, while Minnesota has been diligent in criminalization, there are a number of designer drugs out there that have not yet been met with the hammer of the law. The question remains, if you are caught with these substances, can you face punishments?

How Law Enforcement Punish Drugs Not Yet Illegal

If you are taking a drug that has not yet been listed as a controlled substance, then it is technically not illegal. However, that doesn’t mean you will not face punishment for it. While the substances may not be illegal, often law enforcement will punish the behavior that it causes. For example, if you were pulled over in a car, boat, or while operating heavy machinery, doing any of these activities while intoxicated is still very illegal, even if intoxication was caused by legal substances like alcohol. Other reasons for arrest could be providing intoxicants to minors, criminal negligence if you provided the drug and someone else was hurt because of it, and a number of civil liability issues.

The additional issue you will need to face is the more that people face charges for use of this still-legal drug, the more on the radar it becomes to law enforcement and lawmakers. Obviously, if a number of people face even civil or criminal lawsuits for the actions they took while on the drug, the more of a threat it becomes and the more lawmakers will seek to criminalize it.

What This Means for Minnesota Resident?

For Minnesotans who have found a legal high, they are often just biding their time until they get in trouble. Even if they are careful not to drive or sell the substance, often it is only a matter of time until it is made illegal. When these substances are criminalized, often it is not publicized very well. The good news is that the punishments for possession and use are often less harsh than harder narcotics. In the case of salvia, the punishment is only a gross misdemeanor and if not often prosecuted except in the most severe cases.

In essence, any designer drugs or other legal highs could be criminalized without you even realizing it. Even when not criminalized, law enforcement may try to field a number of charges against you just to make sure you get punishment for feeling good.

If you have been arrested for any charge pertaining to drug use – legal, prescription, or otherwise – contact us today. Even if a drug is not technically illegal, you need to take your legal defense seriously because the effects a drug caused are still very serious. If you are facing drug charges in Minnesota, let the Speas Law Firm come to your defense.

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please contact Jennifer Speas to discuss the specifics of your case.