Legislation Introduced To Address Synthetic Drug Epidemic

Bath salts, a drug which mimics the effects of cocaine, LSD, PCP and amphetamines.

Bath salts, a drug which mimics the effects of cocaine, LSD, PCP and amphetamines.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. John Katko (NY-24) and David Cicciline (RI-1) today (Sept. 8) announced bipartisan legislation that they have introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to ban dangerous synthetic substances.

The Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act addresses the recent surge in synthetic drug use by specifically banning 22 synthetic chemicals, including 11 used to create synthetic marijuana.

“Sadly, Syracuse has become known as ‘Spike Nation,’ suffering from a surge in abuse of synthetic drugs,” said Katko. “This scourge has hit Central New York families hard – like Teresa Woolson from Oswego, who lost her son, Victor, to synthetic drugs in 2012. Teresa has worked tirelessly to combat this public health epidemic. For Teresa and the many advocates that fight beside her in Central New York, I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that takes aim at this threat.  The bill I’ve introduced will provide support to our local law enforcement in removing these dangerous substances from our streets and will make it more difficult for manufacturers to produce this poison. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support of Rep. Cicilline, and look forward to working together to ensure that this bill moves forward in the House.”

Woolson said, “I continue to applaud efforts by Congressman Katko to help save lives from synthetic drugs. The death rate continues to climb and this legislation will help prosecute those involved with distributing deadly poisons through our communities.”

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said, “”Synthetic drugs are nothing more then lethal poisons. Since they’ve hit the streets, they have caused more death, tragedy and destruction then any public health epidemic in recent memory. Unfortunately the traffickers of synthetic drugs have been able to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. Fortunately, John Katko’s experience as a federal prosecutor has given him keen insight into these issues. This legislation will make it easier to arrest and prosecute dealers, traffickers and manufacturers of synthetic drugs. It is a desperately needed weapon to help us in our battle to eradicate this poison from our communities.”

Currently, it is difficult to regulate and prosecute synthetic drug use and distribution.

While Congress took action in 2012 to outlaw several synthetic drugs, manufacturers and distributors of these substances are able to slightly alter the chemical structure of drugs to circumvent this law and avoid law enforcement scrutiny and prosecution.

Current laws are not keeping up with the producers of these poisonous substances, and consequently, substances designed to mimic the effects of LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, and other hard drugs are sold openly at convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and other outlets, and giving some users the assumption that they are not as dangerous as other, illegal substances.

The Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016 addresses this difficulty by adding 22 synthetic substances, including dangerous forms of fentanyl, to Schedule I of Controlled Substances Act.  Doing so will provide law enforcement and prosecutors a greater ability to crack down on synthetic drug traffickers and reduce the availability of legal synthetic substances to manufacturers of these drugs.

Senators Grassley and Schumer have introduced the bipartisan measure in the Senate.

“Easy access to dangerous synthetic drugs poses an immediate threat to the health and well-being of men, women, and children across our country,” said Rep. Cicilline. “This legislation makes it easier for authorities to crack down on these dangerous substances and keep families safe. I’m pleased to be joining Congressman Katko today and working across the aisle to get this done.”

Congressman Katko represents the 24th Congressional District of New York, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne counties and the western portion of Oswego County.

For more information visit http://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko.