Presenting a plastic bag of baby powder to other students as though it were cocaine, or a bag of parsley as though it were marijuana, seems like a harmless joke to some youths.
The truth is such a stunt could land them with a charge of attempted distribution of an illegal substance, a third-degree felony, and a referral to juvenile court.That was one of the more surprising facets of laws governing drugs that Ralph Crabb, a detective with the Orem City Police Department, shared with students attending Project Teamwork workshops earlier this month.
"If they present something as a drug, (acting) as a drug dealer, they could be charged with distribution," Crabb said.
Crabb said more common than the above examples is for youths to sell caffeine tablets as speed.
"They sell them for 50 cents to $1, and if caught they can be charged with distribution of drugs," he said.
Ironically, the law is aimed at protecting the drug user from being sold poisonous and potentially fatal substances in place of the real thing.
"One example we had in Orem seven years ago involved the sale of caffeine laced with arsenic," Crabb said. "The kid got a buzz, but was also getting poisoned, and ended up in serious condition at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center."
Crabb praised the Project Teamwork program, saying the program helps to "solidify the good kids who don't use drugs as a group."