Earlier this week, President Barack Obama signed a new federal legislation that aims to combat the production and distribution of synthetic drugs like ‘bath salts’ and 'incense'. Recently, the designer drugs have been making headlines being tied to dangerous overdoses, emergency room visits, and even violent crimes.
The synthetic drugs have been difficult to combat due to the variety of ingredients and inconsistency of the formulas used. According to Stanton Wheasler, a forensic chemist with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, there are roughly 8 different active chemicals that are commonly found in bath salts.
The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act targets two of the chemicals most commonly found in bath salts by designating them as FDA-controlled substances. This means that they cannot be sold under any circumstances and cannot be prescribed for medical purposes. 31 other compounds are also explicitly banned, 10 of which are bath salt varieties and 20 are synthetic marijuana.
Manufactures have been known to combat these regulations by slightly altering the chemicals enough to get around the law. But the new legislation is aiming to cover a broad enough definition to apply to the drug, even if altered. There have been previous attempts at the state level, but this new law serves at the federal level, banning both Mephedrone and MDPV, key ingredients in the synthetic drugs.
One key advantage of a federal ban, as opposed to a state level ban, is the ability to cover online distribution of the drugs. Many buyers were getting around the state laws by simply purchasing the substances online.
Another key aspect of the federal ban is that it doesn’t only outlaw the compounds that currently make up ‘bath salts’, but it also prohibits similar compounds that could be produced and used in future attempts to get around the law. The law also covers similar synthetic versions of the compounds. Even if they have different chemical formulas, if the produce the same effect, they are covered in the ban. This will have a huge impact on future attempts for manufacturers that may try and beat the law by changing the formulas.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Charles Schumer, spoke on the issue. “This law will close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensure that you cannot simply cross state lines to find these deadly bath salts.”
Of course we know that the manufacturers will attempt to squeak around the ban by developing new compounds, but with the law’s pre-emptive design, many of these expected new varieties will already be banned. Law enforcement will be able to immediately crack down on the new versions without the need for a new law, a window of time manufacturers have been using to profit.
This new ban is major progress in the fight against these new designer drugs, and hopefully the whack-a-mole style game between manufacturers and law enforcement will begin to come to an end.
Original Article newsfeed.time.com
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