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United States Senate Approves Synthetic Pot Ban

United States Senate Approves Synthetic Pot Ban

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 08/06/2012 in Medical Marijuana Trends

The United States Senate approved a Food and Drug Administration-based legislation last week that includes an amendment supported by Susan Collins that would ban synthetic chemicals used to make street drug bath salts. This measure would also outlaw synthetic marijuana, and now needs to be reconciled with a similar bill that passed through the House of Representatives.

The amendment, originally introduced by Senator Rob Portman, was unanimously approved by voice vote on Thursday. Portman is a Republican from Ohio.

The Food and Drug Administration combined the three bills that were previously introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, Charles Schumer, a Democrat out of New York, and Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat out of Minnesota.  The measure outlaws dozens of synthetic drugs, including mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, otherwise known as MDPV, commonly used to make what is referred to as bath salts. The measure carries a penalty of up to thirty years for those individuals who are caught selling the deadly synthetic drug.

Bath salts emerged as a drug on the streets of Bangor, Maine in February of 2011, and by July, it had grown into a statewide problem. The drug was banned in Maine in July 2011.  The drug is usually snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed, and is addictive and can cause users to act unpredictably and violently. Bath salts are known to cause hallucinations, convulsions, psychotic outbreaks and episodes and suicidal thoughts. Bath salts have been linked to more than one death in Maine.

Most recently, police had to shoot to death a naked man who was cannibalistically ripping off another man’s face with his mouth alongside a Miami, Florida highway. Police say that the man had some form of bath salts found within his system, and was high on the drug causing him to have an erratic and violent outburst. The victim, a homeless man named Ronald Poppo, remains in serious condition and if he does survive, its at the potential loss of his face.

Senator Collins and fellow Republican Olympia Snowe, both are co-sponsoring the Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act, which is the bill proposed by New York Senator Charles Schumer. Snowe said in a statement on Tuesday, “I am pleased the Senate passed a provision while considering the Food and Drug Administration Bill to take a crucial step in stopping the spread of bath salts. The severity of the bath salts crisis cannot be overstated. This use of these mind-altering dugs are resulting in prolonged, violent episodes and greatly stressing the resources of local law-enforcements and medical facilities.” Snowe is retiring at the end of her current term.

In December, the United States House of Representatives passed the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, which carries a heavy penalty of up to 20 years in prison for those who are caught dealing in the listed hallucinogenic synthetic drugs.

Bath salts are already banned in a majority of Europe, where they surfaced in the mid-2000’s as a club drug. Collins has said that the bath salts crisis is a “national threat that requires national action.” She has co-sponsored legislations that would require better coordination between federal and local law enforcement agencies that are targeting the spread of synthetic drugs such as bath salts.

The final version of both the House and Senate bills are expected to be presented to President Barack Obama in early July. 

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