Interviewer: What about the lab test? Doesn't the lab mess up testing sometimes or lose samples or contaminate them or weigh them wrong?
William Kroger: The labs that our clients use specifically do chemical testing on substances of this nature. They know what they're doing and they'll test things over and over to make sure that it is what the results say it is. Our clients are very careful with it. They don't distribute anything unless they have lab test results to go along with it that show what the exact chemical is to prove that it's not an illegal substance.
Interviewer: So, the clients themselves will have lab testing done just for themselves?
William Kroger: They'll get lab tests and when they get their chemicals and then they'll supply those lab tests with the products.
The Basic Problems Encountered When Defending a Synthetic Drug Offense
Interviewer: The crux of the case is that it is the government trying to say that it's an analog to an illegal substance or an illegal substance, any other major issues that come up in these cases to find defenses where you have a problem?
William Kroger: The main defense is, “Was the substance illegal that you're trying to charge him for?” Other problems that we're trying to get over on the case is that in the federal sentencing guidelines, when you have 1 gram of synthetic marijuana for sentencing purposes in in the federal guidelines, it equals over 165 grams of marijuana. So, the penalties that they want to give out are extremely high compared to other drugs. That's something that we're trying to work around too and we don't think the sentencing guidelines really describe what it is. The difference between synthetic cannabis and regular cannabis is just so great, 1 to 165.
Kratom is an Organic Drug Derived From an Indonesian Plant
Interviewer: Any other synthetics which are common? I've heard of Kratom and other types of stuff, what other drugs are mimics?
William Kroger: Kratom's really not a synthetic, Kratom is actually from a plant that comes from Indonesia. Right now, it's not scheduled under the federal law and I don't think there are many, if any, states that find it illegal. Kratom is one of these products like medical marijuana. A lot of people find very helpful for health reasons and the government hasn't really accepted it or taken it seriously. It's not like marijuana where you can grow it in your backyard. Kratom has to be grown in a specific climate, it's hard to get into the country but they haven't really cracked down on that yet. We see it probably will be coming but it's not a synthetic drug at all, it's a natural drug from a plant.
People Generally Do Not Know the Legal Status of Synthetic Marijuana
Interviewer: If someone's manufacturing synthetic marijuana and distributing it, are they obligated to know what's happening with the law? Is ignorance of a chemical becoming illegal suddenly an excuse to defense?
William Kroger: The problem is that nobody knows it's illegal. The DEA doesn't even know that these substances are illegal or if and when they do become illegal, nobody really knows. So, yes, you can't really be charged with distributing an illegal drug if you cannot know that it was illegal at the time. That's an argument that we've been raising, how can you break the law when nobody knows that the law is there, not the government, not the people.