Is Flakka Legal in Texas? What Dallas Needs to Know About Flakka
Flakka (aka “flocka” or “gravel”) has arrived in North Texas. This is not good news for anyone.
In case you haven’t heard of it, “flakka” is the nickname for a new synthetic drug, or designer drug, already popular in Florida that is slowly making its way to other parts of the country. Like North Texas. Like Dallas and the surrounding Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. (Houston police report flakka first appeared in the Houston area sometime in 2012.)
See, “A ‘New’ Drug Called Flakka Hits Town. It’s Time to Panic Again, Drug Enforcers Say,” in an article written by Stephen Young for the Texas Observer and published on July 15, 2015.
And while some may suggest some of the warnings about flakka are Chicken Little stories, it’s the medical community here that warns that the dangers of flakka are real — and that flakka is a serious threat to many living here in Dallas and North Texas.
The North Texas Poison Control Center at Parkland Hospital has issued a warning to the local Dallas media about using flakka.
What is Flakka?
Flakka is a new kind of street drug that promises a fast high. And a cheap one: right now, the reported price for a dose of flakka is a mere five bucks ($5). It is something like bath salts, a cousin of sorts, so lots of people understand what they’re getting (or think they do) when they decide to try Flakka. Both are hallucinogenics.
Out in the world, flakka is either white or pink gravelly crystals, and it smells bad. Flakka can be taken in all sorts of ways: you can eat it, smoke it, snort it, or put it into an e-cigarette. It’s dangerous to use, people have died from heart attacks and the like after ingesting it. Flakka can also make the body overheat, with temperatures rising to 105 degrees or more. This risks kidney failure, and it can also induce psychosis (or a violent psychotic state).
Recently, a new version of flakka appeared in Miami, where gummy bear candy is laced with flakka that had been ground down from gravel-like crystals into something that looks more like sugar.
The high from flakka is intense. In fact, researchers warn that flakka can cause “excited delirium” which they describe as “… hyperstimulation, paranoia, and hallucinations that can lead to violent aggression and self-injury.“
So why is it a new trend? Flakka makes people feel great. As a chemical released into the body, it “… stimulates the release of feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine and norepinephrine,” explained one Florida research professor to LiveScience.com (read the full article here).
It’s also a real profit center for those in the drug business. According to this same Florida researcher, someone can buy alpha-PVP over the web from an overseas supplier for around $1500/kilo. They can turn that around into a net profit of around $50,000 — and that’s a profit margin too tempting for many to pass up.
Is Flakka another kind of Bath Salts?
Sorta but not really. The difference between bath salts and Flakka is in the recipe. Flakka is the nickname for a chemical called alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (“alpha-PVP” or “a-PVP”). It is a synthetic version of cathinone. Cathinone is the amphetamine in bath salts that got people high. Cathinone was banned in 2011.
Flakka is not the same as bath salts and isn’t covered by the controlled substances laws that were passed to make bath salts illegal. Alpha-PVP is a new chemical and as such, it’s legal in many states.
Alpha-PVP has been banned by the federal government via a federal regulation that amends the Controlled Substances Act to include alpha-PVP as an illegal substance under federal law. See, 21 CFR Part 1308, final order effective March 1, 2014.
Is Flakka Against the Law in Texas? Yes and No.
Starting September 1, 2015, there are several new Texas drug synthetic laws that are going into effect.
- Senate Bill 172, for example, will make designer drug 25-1 and “its chemical cousins” that mimic LSD or ecstacy illegal to sell in Texas.
- Senate Bill 173 makes synthetic cannabinoids illegal as controlled substances and controlled substance analogues under the Texas Controlled Substances Act. This means K2, Spice, Genie, and other products sold as synthetic pot are now illegal to possess or use under Texas law.
However, as we have discussed before, the problem with designer drugs is keeping up with the trends. Until a chemical or drug is made illegal in Texas, then it’s not against the law to possess it.
Here in Texas, Senate Bill 199 was making its way through the Texas Legislature but never made it to the Governor’s desk and never became law before the legislative session ended. Senate Bill 199 would have made flakka (or alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone) illegal in Texas. Specifically, it would have added alpha-PVP to Section 481.103(a) of the Texas Health and Safety Code, which makes certain drugs illegal and defines the penalty for those caught with the listed chemicals in their possession. If it had passed, the bill would have added flakka as a Penalty Group 2 Controlled Substance.
So, for now, alpha-PVP isn’t on the illegal chemicals list of the Texas Health and Safety Code. Which means flakka is illegal under federal law but not under the laws of the State of Texas (yet).
Flakka Can You Arrested
So, is flakka legal in Texas? No — because the DEA has outlawed it. However, state and local law enforcement are in the habit of arresting folk for state and local law violations, not federal regulations, so some folk may take comfort out there that flakka is technically a legal compound here in the Lone Star State. Proprietors that sold bath salts and Spice might find it acceptable to offer customers flakka products right now. It’s easily found for sale online, too.
Here’s the thing. Flakka can get you arrested — not just because possessing it is against the federal Controlled Substances Act but because flakka is notorious for leading people to do strange and painful and illegal things while high on flakka. (And in many instances, they are naked when they are caught because of the drug’s tendency to cause the body to overheat.)
Consider these examples out of Florida where the streets have been filled with people trying Flakka for awhile now:
- A man running from police in Fort Lauderdale impales himself on a 12 inch metal spike while trying to scale a fence (watch the video here).
- In Palm Beach, a man took his gun to his apartment building rooftop, strips, and threatens to sniper shoot anyone who came near him; he was arrested without anyone being hurt.
- In Orlando, a 41 year old man was arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer, assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer and more, after he was caught running naked through a Florida neighborhood yelling that he was a god and then “committing a sexual act on a tree.”
Flakka is a Felony Bomb Waiting to Explode
The lesson here: flakka isn’t the only issue here; it is what flakka leads people to do while under its spell. Serious felonies — like assault on police officers— have been committed by people high on flakka. People have died while high on flakka. Even experienced drug users have told reporters that flakka is a drug they are scared to use.
Bottom line: Flakka is like a bomb that can blow up someone’s life and when the dust settles, they are under arrest, behind bars, and looking for their criminal defense lawyer to do whatever can be done at that point to try and minimize the fallout from the explosion.
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