U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch is co-sponsoring a bill to outlaw nationwide the chemicals used in synthetic marijuana.
The legislation, termed the Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, would make permanent the ban on substances like spice and K2 that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration enacted last fall. If passed, the bill would effectively deem the chemicals contained in the synthetic drugs as controlled substances.
“With impressionable youth and young adults in Utah and other states abusing synthetic marijuana in ever-increasing numbers, it is important to head off this growing epidemic with legislation that permanently bans the chemicals in these synthetic drugs that are wreaking such havoc in so many lives across the country,” Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. “These drugs are a menace to public health and safety and need to be treated as such.”
According to Hatch’s office, spice, K2 and other forms of synthetic marijuana have been linked to 24 deaths across the United States.
“Moreover, poison control centers and emergency rooms throughout the U.S. have been flooded with users of the synthetic drugs suffering from increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and seizures,” reads a press release from Hatch’s office. “Others have become violent under the influence of the drug, injuring themselves and others.”
At Hatch’s request, the DEA put in place a one-year ban of the substances last November in order to study the merits of outlawing them permanently.
The Utah Legislature adopted legislation this past session that makes the possession and sale of spice, K2 and bath salts illegal.
The Bear River Board of Health has already criminalized spice across the entire health district, which is composed of Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties. In addition, several municipalities have banned it, along with Cache County for all unincorporated areas.
County Attorney James Swink praised the federal legislation, noting that many European countries have already banned the substances.
“The U.S. is just behind taking action on that. For whatever reason, our legislative process is a lot slower,” Swink said. “We’ve reacted a lot more quickly locally because it is a problem, and it’s something that we’ve had issues (with) that we’ve had to address. So I’m glad the federal government’s finally taking action.”
Sunday, March 20, 2011 1:00 am
By Charles Geraci
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