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Minn. Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Fight Synthetic Drug Use

Updated: 01/29/2014 4:45 PM
Created: 01/29/2014 8:18 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson

Several Minnesota lawmakers are taking up the fight on synthetic drugs again.

The health risks of synthetic drugs including synthetic marijuana and synthetic cathinones also known as bath salts, are still largely unknown.

On Wednesday, the lawmakers put out their ideas for a legislative package this session aimed at reducing the threat posed by synthetic drugs.

“After holding  meetings and discussions in communities across the state, I think we can all agree that the problem of synthetic drugs is continuing to grow in Minnesota,” said Rep. Erik Simonson, chair of the House Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs.

The recommendations include:

  • Expand the definition of “drug” in statute to include any compound, substance, or derivative which is not approved for human consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration or specifically permitted by Minnesota law, and when introduced into the body, induces an effect substantially similar to that of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance regardless of whether the substance is marketed for the purpose of human consumption.
  • Empower the Board of Pharmacy to issue cease-and-desist orders to businesses that sell synthetic drugs.
  • Remove the sunset on the Board of Pharmacy’s emergency drug scheduling authority.
  • Strike the statutory requirement that the Board of Pharmacy’s emergency drug scheduling decisions must be ratified by the Legislature to make the Board’s actions final.
  • Create a pilot project that trains prosecutors in the best practices of prosecuting synthetic drug cases and funds expert witnesses in synthetic drug investigations and trials.
  • Direct the commissioners of Education, Health and Human Services to formulate and implement an educational awareness campaign designed to reach a broad audience but contain targeted messages for students on the dangers of synthetic drug use.
  • Regularly review efforts to reduce and prevent all forms of drug abuse by pertinent legislative committees.
  • Pass a resolution requesting Minnesota’s federal Congressional delegation pursue further efforts to control internet sales of illegal drugs.

“We have really good laws in Minnesota that are very useful and productive tools, but we also thought potentially what we needed to do was put another tool or two into the toolbox to give law enforcement and prosecutors a better opportunity to control this problem in their own community,” Rep. Simonson said.

Photo: KSTP/File
Photo: KSTP/File

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