Radinovich, Ward support bill to fight synthetic drugs
The Minnesota House of Representatives Wednesday passed legislation (HF 2446) aimed at combating synthetic drugs on a unanimous, bipartisan vote, according to a news release from Rep. John Ward, DFL-Baxter, and Rep. Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby.
Minnesota has seen the growth in the use of these synthetic drugs — cathinones (a.k.a. Bath Salts) and cannabinoids (a.k.a. Synthetic “Marijuana”) — which have endangered the state’s drug abuse prevention efforts.
House Speaker Paul Thissen appointed the House Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs in 2013 in response to Minnesota’s growing synthetic drug problem. Despite 2011 and 2012 legislation that attempted to ban these substances, manufacturers and distributors of synthetic drugs have continued to find ways to alter the chemical make-up of these drugs, often blatantly violating state law.
Ward was appointed to the Select Committee, whose recommendations led to today’s legislation.
“These synthetic drugs are popular in many communities across the state, including ours, and they’re having a devastating impact on individuals, families, our economy and community safety,” Ward said. “After months of research, testimony, and travel across the state — including a hearing in Brainerd — we’re passing legislation to address this problem and protect Minnesotans and their families from the terrible tragedies caused by synthetic drugs.
“The problem of synthetic drugs continues to grow despite past legislative efforts,” added Radinovich. “These drugs are incredibly dangerous and the people who make them continue to evade state laws. This is a great step to deal with this issue and I’m pleased today’s legislation had strong, bipartisan support.”
The bill amends the definition of drug to also include compounds which are not regulated or approved for human consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Minnesota law and when introduced to the body they induce an effect substantially similar to that of scheduled drugs, regardless of whether the substance is marketed for the purpose of human consumption.
Next the bill grants cease and desist power to the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy to stop retailers from selling these products.
The bill removes the sunset on the Board of Pharmacy’s emergency drug scheduling authority. This power was given to the board to help keep up with the influx of synthetic drugs introduced into the market after manufacturer’s tweak the formula to skirt state laws.
The bill also calls for a mandatory restitution provision. Finally, the bill appropriates $50,000 in FY 2014 and $50,000 in FY 2015 to the Department of Human Services for increasing public awareness of the dangers of synthetic drugs.