Manchester Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Synthetic Cannabinoids
CONCORD - Heath Palmer, 39, of Manchester, pleaded guilty in federal court on October 10, 2019, to possessing a synthetic cannabinoid product containing 5F-MDMB-PICA with intent to distribute, United States Attorney Scott W. Murray announced today.
According to statements made in court, on April 18, 2019, Palmer was observed by police officers conducting hand-to-hand sales from a car. The Manchester Police stopped Palmer and he voluntarily turned over the product he was selling. Palmer claimed that the product did not contain illegal substances. Testing by the New Hampshire State Police Forensic Laboratory confirmed, however, that the product contained an illegal substance, 5F-MDMB-PICA.
On May 7, 2019, Palmer was informed by the Manchester Police that the substance he was selling was in fact illegal under federal law. Three days later, the Manchester Police observed Palmer continuing to make hand-to-hand sales from a car. The police stopped the car and seized the product that Palmer was selling. The product was again tested, and it contained the same illegal substance, 5F-MDMB-PICA.
Palmer is scheduled to be sentenced on January 22, 2020.
According to the DEA, synthetic cannabinoids, which commonly are referred to by names such as “Spice” or “K2,” are designer drugs that are made in laboratories. The chemicals often are sprayed onto plant substances and then smoked in order to obtain a high. These substances have severe adverse effects and have often led to overdoses. In addition to the dangers associated with the chemical substances themselves, the lack of manufacturing standards may lead to increased health risks.
The DEA issued a regulation on April 16, 2019, that made 5F-MDMB-PICA and several other synthetic cannabinoids Schedule I controlled substances. In its order, the DEA noted that this drug had been associated with over 47 overdoses in Connecticut and at least 244 overdoses in Washington, D.C. Further information is available at https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2019/fr0416.htm and https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=88.
“Synthetic cannabinoids are dangerous drugs that can cause serious bodily harm,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “Because of significant damage to communities in the Granite State, we will not hesitate to bring federal charges against those who sell these dangerous substances. I am grateful to the Manchester Police and DEA for their excellent work, which got this drug trafficker off the streets.”
“There is a misconception that synthetic cannabinoids, known on the street as synthetic marijuana, K2 and spice are safe. Synthetic cannabinoids are anything but safe,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Boyle. “They are a toxic cocktail of lethal chemicals created in China and then disguised as plant material here in New England. DEA and its local, state and federal partners will work diligently to keep this dangerous drug off the streets of New Hampshire.”
The case was investigated by the Manchester Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Seth R. Aframe.