The House Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs, along with Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, recently released legislative recommendations and local initiatives to combat synthetic drugs. Rep. John Ward, DFL – Baxter, is a member of the committee and supports the recommendations.
Minnesota has seen the growth in the use of these synthetic drugs — cathinones (a.k.a. Bath Salts) and cannabinoids (a.k.a. Synthetic marijuana) — which have endangered the state’s drug abuse prevention efforts.
“These synthetic drugs are popular in many communities across the state, including ours, and they’re having devastating impact on individuals, families, our economy and community safety,” Ward said in a statement. “I fully support these recommendations and hope the Legislature takes action this year.”
After six months of hearings throughout the state — including one in Brainerd — the committee issued its recommendations to be forwarded to House Speaker Paul Thissen for legislative consideration.
Actions the state should take include:
• Expand the definition of “drug” in statute to include any compound, substance, or derivative which is not approved for human consumption by the United States Food and Drug Administration or specifically permitted by Minnesota law, and when introduced into the body, induces an effect substantially similar to that of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance regardless of whether the substance is marketed for the purpose of human consumption.
• Empower the Board of Pharmacy to issue cease-and-desist orders to businesses that sell synthetic drugs.
• Remove the sunset on the Board of Pharmacy’s emergency drug scheduling authority.
• Strike the statutory requirement that the Board of Pharmacy’s emergency drug scheduling decisions must be ratified by the Legislature to make the Board’s actions final.
• Create a pilot project that trains prosecutors in the best practices of prosecuting synthetic drug cases and funds expert witnesses in synthetic drug investigations and trials.
• Direct the commissioners of Education, Health and Human Services to formulate and implement an educational awareness campaign designed to reach a broad audience but contain targeted messages for students on the dangers of synthetic drug use.
• Regularly review efforts to reduce and prevent all forms of drug abuse by pertinent legislative committees.
• Pass a resolution requesting Minnesota’s federal Congressional delegation pursue further efforts to control internet sales of illegal drugs.
Locally, the committee urges communities to adopt comprehensive drug paraphernalia ordinances similar to an ordinance in Moorhead.