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Thornberry aims to crack down on synthetic drugs

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Washington, August 5, 2015 | Jon Corley (202-225-3706) | comments

U.S. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that will help law enforcement officials combat the growing problem of synthetic drugs. The “SALTS Act,” H.R. 1186, would make it easier for law enforcement officials to take action against synthetic drug manufacturers, distributors, and sellers by closing a loophole that makes it difficult to prosecute them because they label packages as “not intended for human consumption.”

Current law allows the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to prosecute the sale of drugs similar to controlled substances, but it does not cover substances with that label. Yet, the abusers who purchase these substances all know exactly what to do with them – ingest or snort them to get a dangerous and unpredictable high.

“I have spoken with law enforcement, doctors, and educators from our area about increasing awareness of these synthetic drugs, which really are just poisons,” Thornberry said. “A big part of the problem is that young people and parents are not aware of the serious side effects of these poisons. These drugs invoke dangerous behavior and cause irreparable damage to the health of those who ingest them. I want to make sure our law enforcement agencies can keep up with the changing formulas and take down synthetic drug producers and sellers.”

The bill was crafted with the feedback from local law enforcement and health officials who struggle to contain these drugs. Synthetic drugs – often called “K2,” “spice,” “bath salts,” or “synthetic marijuana” – are laced with man-made chemicals that mimic the effects of THC and amphetamines. The harmful effects of synthetic drugs include violent behavior and health issues that are sometimes fatal. TIME magazine featured the story of Ms. Roni Cannon, an Amarillo resident whose son died after ingesting K2 in 2013. In 2015, almost 5,000 exposures to synthetic drugs have been reported to poison control centers. That number has nearly doubled in the past year.

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