Of all of the incorrect assumptions that many in Wheeling have in regards to the state’s drug laws, one of the most common may be that authorities do not take drug charges as seriously as other criminal offenses. The thought may be that if one is arrested for a drug offense, they are likely to only be charged with a simple misdemeanor and sent on their way. In reality, however, law enforcement can indeed come down hard on those who allegedly commit drug offenses. One need only review the state’s imitation controlled substance laws to understand this. 

Section 60A-1-101(g) of the West Virginia Code defines “imitation controlled substances” not only as actual drugs represented to be different controlled substances (or drugs shaped, colored, labeled or packaged in a way as to be represented as different controlled substances), but also things that are not controlled substances but are falsely represented to be. While some may find it odd that authorities would treat one who is not dealing in actual drugs as though they were, police in the state are indeed authorized to treat those doing so in a similar manner as they would in cases involving real controlled substances. 

Just how severe are the penalties that can accompany a charge related to imitation controlled substances? According to West Virginia’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act, one possessing or selling such a substance could face a misdemeanor charge that brings with it fines up to $5000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six months. If one is believed to be dealing imitation controlled substances to minors, the charges they might face could be upgraded to felonies whose consequences are double that of a similar misdemeanor charge.