We recently had the privilege of working on a “synthetics” case in Nashville involving a plant known as kratom. Our client was charged with selling some five pounds of kratom to an undercover police officer. He was arrested and charged with selling a synthetic opiate, in violation of T.C.A. 39-17-454, which is the the Tennessee analogs (synthetics) statute. The problem is, under the law in Tennessee, Kratom is not illegal (and technically not a synthetic at all).
For something to be considered illegal under the analogue statute, the substance must have a “chemical structure which is a derivative or structural analogue of the chemical structure of a controlled substance.” There is no definition for derivative or structural analogue in the statute, so the common definition applies to these terms.
This means that for kratom to be illegal in Tennessee, the chemical or substance, must have been created in a lab (we use this term very loosely). So, our argument is simple, the chemical found in kratom, Mitragyna speciosa, is not a derivative or synthetic of any other chemical (let alone an opiate). It is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the plant. Therefore, it is not a synthetic opiate or any other type of synthetic. So please, stop calling it that!
Here is the problem, the police don’t know that it isn’t illegal, they will arrest you for possessing it or selling it. The prosecutor’s office, as a whole, doesn’t know it isn’t illegal. They may try to prosecute you for being arrested with it. We were “lucky” to get the prosecutor we did.
She agreed that the substance is not illegal and that she couldn’t prosecute our client (of course, this is subject to change once the legislature reviews the law). There is no guarantee that if you are arrested for kratom in Nashville that you will get the same prosecutor (you definitely will not get the same prosecutor if arrested outside Davidson County). But we are confident that we can help you regardless of who is prosecuting.