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Fighting synthetic drug sale, use (new law)

Published (5/25/2012)
By Mike Cook
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It isn’t easy for law enforcement to keep up with the changing compounds of synthetic drugs, but a new law tries to help.

Sponsored by Rep. Bob Barrett (R-Lindstrom) and Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), it will enhance the penalty for selling such substances to a felony, expand the list of synthetic substances and grant the Board of Pharmacy expedited rulemaking authority to handle new chemical formulas used by drug producers.

The law piggybacks on a 2011 law that added substances known as 2C-E and 2C-I, “plant food,” “bath salts” and synthetic cannabinoids to the Schedule I drugs in the controlled substances chapter of state law; made it a gross misdemeanor to sell synthetic marijuana; and made possession a misdemeanor. The goal of both laws is to help keep synthetic drugs — also called designer drugs — out of storefronts and off the streets by making them more difficult to sell.

According to the law, if the Board of Pharmacy adds a drug to the schedule through expedited rulemaking they must notify the Legislature, which must ratify the addition the following session to keep it on the schedule. Additionally, there is a two-year sunset on the expedited rulemaking.

Because not all shops have been compliant with the 2011 law, and instead are willing to pay the fine for a misdemeanor in order to keep doing business, the law makes it a felony to sell synthetic drugs. Supporters hope some sellers will decide what they’re doing isn’t worth the potential price of a $10,000 fine and five years in prison.

Courts will also be permitted to offer a diversion program to first-time users of synthetic drugs, just as they can to other first-time other drug users.

HF2508*/ SF2319/CH240

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