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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Drug Crimes > Since When Is The Active Ingredient In Root Beer A Controlled Substance?

Since When Is The Active Ingredient In Root Beer A Controlled Substance?


Perhaps you have never knowingly seen a sassafras tree, but just the word “sassafras” evokes feelings of cozy, carefree innocence.  Just from the name, you can tell how sweet it is.  Wikipedia says that safrole, a chemical compound found in sassafras leaves, is what gives sassafras its characteristic “sweet shop” smell.  The ecological reason behind the smell of safrole is to deter insects from munching on sassafras leaves, and yet, humans can’t seem to get enough of it.  Luckily, the Sassafras albidum tree is ubiquitous in eastern North America, from Maine to Ontario and from central Florida to eastern Texas.  It is no surprise, then, that it is an ingredient in some regional foods.  The safrole in sassafras bark is what gives root beer its sweet, earthy taste.  Dried and ground sassafras leaves are the main ingredient in gumbo file powder, which is the last ingredient you add to Louisiana creole gumbo before you serve it.  Meanwhile, from a legal standpoint, safrole is considered a precursor to MDMA, a Schedule I controlled substance.  If you are being accused of manufacturing E, when all you really wanted was some homemade root beer, contact a Tampa drug crime lawyer.

A Drug by Any Other Name Would Still Smell as Sweet

Safrole is an ingredient in the manufacture of MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly, and MDA, also known as sass or Sally.  Both drugs are Schedule I controlled substances, which means that it is always illegal to manufacture or possess them.  Because of its role in the production of MDA and MDMA, safrole is a List I precursor chemical, which means that you can only import it or sell it with official permission.

Safrole was once widely used as an ingredient in medicines and homemade root beer.  After it was banned by the FDA in 1960, you could still buy root beer, but it was often made with sarsaparilla or artificial flavor instead of sassafras.  Likewise, when you buy commercially produced sassafras oil for culinary use, it usually contains little or no safrole.

Will you get in trouble for possession of sassafras roots or sassafras oil?  It depends on the circumstances.  If neighbors complain to the police of pleasant smells coming from your house, the police are not going to obtain a search warrant and then arrest you if they find a bottle of sassafras oil in your kitchen.  The real trouble is if you are using safrole to make MDA or MDMA.  The mere presence of safrole in your possession is not enough to confirm this.  There would have to be additional evidence, such as large numbers of finished pills and manufacturing equipment.  As always, you can only be convicted if the police obtained the evidence lawfully.

Contact Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Bryant Scriven

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are being accused of possession of precursor chemicals to MDA, MDMA, or other controlled substances.  Contact Scriven Law in Tampa, Florida to schedule a consultation.



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