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Imitation drugs: When fake drugs lead to real consequences

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2024 | Criminal Law |

Like other U.S. states, Montana takes a hardline stance against the distribution and manufacture of dangerous controlled substances. These drugs have a high abuse risk and can induce severe addiction and dependence; to say they can ruin lives is an understatement.

But on top of prohibiting the sale of controlled substances, Montana also outlaws the distribution of drugs designed to imitate more dangerous substances. Even if the fake drugs don’t actually cause any stimulating effects, a person arrested for distributing them can face real criminal charges.

The law on imitation drugs

According to state law, a person commits the offense of criminal distribution of an imitation dangerous drug if they knowingly sell, barter, exchange, give away, or offer any imitation dangerous drug.

The law also defines an imitation dangerous drug as a substance that isn’t a dangerous drug but is expressly represented to be one, with its appearance (i.e., color, shape, size and markings) designed in a way that a reasonable person would believe it’s the real deal.

So, selling harmless tablets designed to look like narcotics, such as oxycodone, for instance, would be a violation of the law.

The penalties for distributing imitation drugs

If a court convicts a person of criminal distribution of an imitation dangerous drug to another person 18 years old or older, the person faces up to five years of imprisonment in state prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

However, if a court convicts a person of criminal distribution of an imitation dangerous drug to another person under the age of 18, the penalties increase. The offense is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment and $50,000 in fines.

Selling fake drugs might sound like a harmless thing to do, but there are real consequences for participating in the illegal drug trade. If you face charges for distributing counterfeit dangerous drugs, know that a conviction will lead to years of prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines – in addition to a criminal record. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to explain your rights and help represent you in your trial.