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Possession of Imitation Controlled Substances

In Florida, Section 817.564 prohibits the possession or distribution of imitation controlled substances.  The statute defines the term “imitation controlled substance” to include a pill, capsule, tablet, or substance in any form whatsoever which is not a controlled substance enumerated in chapter 893, which is subject to abuse, and which:

(a) By overall dosage unit appearance, including color, shape, size, markings, and packaging, or by representations made, would cause the likelihood that such a pill, capsule, tablet, or substance will be mistaken for a controlled substance unless such substance was introduced into commerce prior to the initial introduction into commerce of the controlled substance which it is alleged to imitate; or

(b) By express or implied representations, purports to act like a controlled substance as a stimulant or depressant of the central nervous system and which is not commonly used or recognized for use in that particular formulation for any purpose other than for such stimulant or depressant effect, unless marketed, promoted, or sold as permitted by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Under Section 817.564(2), if the appearance of the dosage unit is not reasonably sufficient to establish that the substance is an imitation controlled substance, then the court or authority concerned may consider, in addition to all other logically relevant factors, the following factors as related to “representations made” in determining whether the substance is an imitation controlled substance:

  1. Statements made by an owner or by anyone else in control of the substance concerning the nature of the substance or its use or effect.
  2. Statements made to the recipient that the substance may be resold for inordinate profit.
  3. Whether the substance is packaged in a manner normally used for illicit controlled substances.
  4. Evasive tactics or actions utilized by the owner or person in control of the substance to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities.
  5. Prior convictions, if any, of an owner, or anyone in control of the object, under state or federal law related to controlled substances or fraud.
  6. The proximity of the substances to controlled substances.

Attorney for Imitation Drugs in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients accused of possession or distribution of an imitation controlled substance under Florida Statute Section 817.564. We also represent clients accused of selling counterfeit or fake drugs in violation of Florida Statute Section 831.31

With offices in Tampa, Clearwater, and New Port Richey, we represent clients throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. Contact us to find out more about the charges pending against you, the potential penalties, and the best defenses to fight the charges.

Call 813-250-0500.


Penalties for Possession with the Intent to Sell Imitation Drugs

Pursuant to Section 817.564(3), any person who manufactures, distributes, sells, gives, or possesses with the intent to manufacture, distribute, sell, or give an imitation controlled substance can be charged with a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Pursuant to Section 817.564(4), if a person 18 years or older knowingly sells or distributes an imitation controlled substance to a person under the age of 18 years, then the crime can be charged as a third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.


Promoting the Distribution of Imitation Controlled Substances

Pursuant to Section 817.564(5), it is unlawful for any person to place in any newspaper, magazine, handbill, or other publication or to post or distribute in any public place any advertisement or solicitation with reasonable knowledge that the purpose of the advertisement or solicitation is to promote the distribution of imitation controlled substances.

Promoting the distribution of an imitation control substance through an advertisement or solicitation is charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Defenses to Imitation Controlled Substances

The statute prohibits any civil or criminal liability being imposed when a licensed practitioner in the course of professional practice or research in accordance with the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act manufactures, dispenses, sells, gives, or distributes an imitation controlled substance for use as a placebo.

Likewise, the statute prohibits any civil or criminal liability being imposed when any law enforcement officer possesses an imitation controlled substance while acting in the officer’s official capacity during the course of an active criminal investigation relating to controlled substances which is approved or authorized by the officer’s agency or to an informer or third party acting under the direction or control of such an officer as part of an authorized, active criminal investigation relating to controlled substances.


This article was last updated on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.