United States v. Phifer

Butylone is an illegal hallucinogen, and so are its positional isomers—molecules with the same chemical formula but a certain different arrangement of atoms. Ethylone might be a positional isomer of butylone, but the regs are unclear. Eleventh Circuit: All right, we’re “just going to have to science the heck out of this.” Defendant’s conviction is vacated. Deference to the DEA’s view of the regs doesn’t belong in a criminal case. Instead, we remand for an evidentiary hearing on the scientific community’s definition of “positional isomer.” Concurrence: “Criminal statutes and regulations need to be written in a way that allows a reasonable person to understand what is prohibited.”

Tags: 2018, Controlled Substances, DEA, Eleventh Circuit

Sign up to receive IJ's biweekly digital magazine, Liberty & Law along with breaking updates about our fight to protect the rights of all Americans.