Apr 25 2007

Senators Feinstein and Grassley Introduce Legislation to Penalize Drug Dealers Who Market Candy-Flavored Meth to Children

- Senators Feinstein and Grassley also introduce legislation to extend authorization of $20 million grant program to help drug endangered children -

 Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today introduced legislation to increase the federal criminal penalties for drug dealers who entice children with candy-flavored methamphetamine and other flavored drugs. 

 The legislation comes in the wake of recent reports detailing the growing trend of candy-flavored meth.  According to law enforcement officers and drug treatment officials, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs are being colored, packaged and flavored in ways designed to attract children and minors.  The flavored meth first appeared on the streets earlier this year, and is being sold to children and teens. 

“This bill will send a strong and clear message to drug dealers – if you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay,” Senator Feinstein said.  “Flavored meth – with child-friendly names like Strawberry Quick – is designed to get people to try it a few times.  It’s all about hooking young people, and we have to stop this practice before it grows any further.  So, this legislation will increase the criminal penalties for anyone who markets candy-flavored drugs to our youth – by imposing on them the same enhanced penalties applied to dealers who distribute drugs to minors.”

“New techniques and gimmicks to lure our kids into addiction are around every corner.  Candy flavored meth is the latest craze used by drug dealers,” Senator Grassley said.  “Research has shown time and again that if you can keep a child drug-free until they turn 20, chances are very slim that they will ever try or become addicted.   This makes it all the more important that we put an end to the practice of purposely altering illegal drugs to make them more appealing to young people.” 

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy have issued warnings on the trend of flavored methamphetamine.  In San Francisco, police report that since late January they have been arresting teens in possession of meth designed to taste like chocolate.  The Haight-Asbury clinic also confirms that chocolate-flavored methamphetamine is being used on the streets. 

$20 Million Grant Program

Senators Feinstein and Grassley today also introduced legislation to reauthorize a $20 million grant program that assists in the treatment of children who have been endangered by living in a home where methamphetamine has been manufactured or distributed.  The grant program was authorized in the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act of 2005, but the program funds have not been appropriated. 

“A meth lab is a dangerous place, and children found on the scene have been exposed to toxic chemicals, and are often abused or neglected.  These funds are needed to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement, medical services, and child welfare workers to ensure that drug endangered children receive the specialized attention and care they need,” Senator Feinstein said.

“Meth addicts across the country are putting their children at risk by manufacturing and distributing their product out of their homes.  These kids are helpless victims to bad choices by their caretakers and need the extra effort to ensure they receive the necessary attention and care,” Senator Grassley said.

 The legislation in co-sponsored by Senators Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.), Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). 

A companion bill was introduced earlier this year by Representative Dennis Cordoza (D-Calif.), with bipartisan support in the House.

“Tragically, innocent children are suffering terribly as a result of meth and other drugs,” Representative Cardoza said.  “This bill is an important step towards providing hope for children endangered by drugs at home. These grants would provide much needed funds to improve coordination between government organizations that deal with children found in homes made unsafe by drugs.”

Feinstein Letters to ONDCP and Ad Council

Senator Feinstein today also sent letters to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Advertising Council asking the organizations to consider developing public service campaigns to increase awareness about the disturbing new trend of drug dealers marketing candy-flavored meth to children. 

In her letter to the ONDCP, Senator Feinstein wrote, “Along with Senator Grassley, I am introducing a bill to ensure that we expand our federal drug penalties so that dealers will think twice before altering illegal drugs to target our kids, and I hope you will support this legislation.  But I also hope your office will consider a publicity campaign to highlight this problem that the DEA says has already spread to California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri and Minnesota, so that parents of children and teens can be adequately warned of this issue.”

Copies of both letters are available upon request. 

Bill Summaries

Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act:

Currently, federal law enhances the criminal penalties that apply when a person sells drugs to anyone under age 21.  When this occurs, the federal penalties are doubled (or tripled for a repeat offense), and a penalty of at least one year must be applied.  But this enhancement only applies if actual “distribution” to a minor is proven.

The Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act would apply the current penalty enhancement to anyone who “manufactures, creates, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance that is flavored, colored, packaged or otherwise altered in a way that is designed to make it more appealing to a person under 21 years of age, or who attempts or conspires to do so.”

Drug Endangered Children Act of 2007:

The Drug Endangered Children Act of 2007 would extend a grant program authorized in the USA PATRIOT Reauthorization Act, by reauthorizing it at the same $20 million level previously approved by Congress, for an additional two years (FY2008/2009).  These grants assist in the treatment of children who have been endangered by living at a home where methamphetamine has been manufactured or distributed, by allowing States to develop Drug Endangered Children programs, and interagency protocols, to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement, medical services, and child welfare workers, to ensure that children found in these environments receive appropriate attention and care.

Background on Combat Meth Act

Senator Feinstein has long been a leader in supporting legislation to address the ravages of methamphetamine abuse and was the sponsor of the Combating Methamphetamine Epidemic Act.  This legislation, which went into effect on September 29, 2006, has since been recognized as a leading cause of recent dramatic drops in domestic methamphetamine production.

The Combat Meth Act requires cold medications containing pseudoephedrine to be placed behind a pharmacy counter, requires signature and proof of identification before purchase, and limits the amount of pseudoephedrine that one person can buy in a single day or month. It also provides funding for education, prevention and treatment programs.

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