Senators reintroduced bill to make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of “analogue” drugs, which are synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs
May 14 2015
Current law makes it difficult to prosecute new synthetic drugs as analogues, because they are often not marketed as intended for human consumption despite their well-known use as recreational drugs with dangerous effects; the senators’ legislation would make it easier to prove that synthetic drugs are intended for human consumption and thus easier to prosecute
Washington—U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help fight synthetic drugs. The Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act would make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of new synthetic drugs that are “analogues” – or substantially similar to current illegal drugs. Current law makes it difficult to prosecute new synthetic drugs as analogues because they are often labeled “not intended for human consumption” and not marketed for human consumption despite their well-known use as recreational drugs with dangerous effects. The senators’ legislation would make it easier to prove that synthetic drugs are intended for human consumption and thus easier to prosecute.
“Readily available at some local gas stations and corner stores, synthetic drugs have claimed the lives of teenagers in Minnesota and across the country,” Klobuchar said. “In the face of these tragedies, the people that produce these dangerous drugs simply pretend the drugs are not intended for human consumption. This bill would make it easier for law enforcement to crack down on new synthetic drugs the minute they hit the market.”
“Synthetic drugs are illegal and dangerous,” said Graham. “But because of the wording in the statute, it is easy for people to get around the law and continue to sell these harmful substances. Our bill will give law enforcement the flexibility it needs to make sure individuals who sell these drugs can’t skirt the law by changing a label.”
“Synthetic drugs are often more dangerous than the drugs they are designed to imitate, and manufacturers are constantly churning out new versions to evade prosecution,” said Senator Feinstein. “We need to make it easier for law enforcement to pursue the manufacturers and sellers of these drugs, who use false labeling and deceptive marketing to aggressively target young people.”
“The cynical makers of these drugs often label their products ‘not intended for human consumption’ to evade the law and escape prosecution,” Grassley said. “This bill would help make clear that a label intended to mislead isn’t fooling anybody in the eyes of the law. Those who market poisonous products that harm consumers including teen-agers ought to be prosecuted for it.”
Current law provides the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) with a mechanism to prosecute the sale and distribution of analogue drugs. However, the law specifically says that an analogue drug does not include any substance “not intended for human consumption.” This makes the prosecution of offenders difficult as synthetic drugs often explicitly state that they are “not intended for human consumption.”
This bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to require consideration of a number of factors when determining whether a controlled substance analogue was intended for human consumption, including the marketing, advertising, and labeling of a substance, and its known use. The bill also says that the existence of evidence that a substance was not marketed, advertised, or labeled for human consumption, should not stop prosecutors from being able to establish based on all the evidence that the substance was in fact intended for human consumption.
During her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has been a leader in the effort to ban harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs that have taken lives and injured many others. Last year, a resolution she wrote to promote awareness among youth about the dangers of synthetic drugs passed the Senate. In 2012, her provisions outlawing harmful synthetic substances such as 2C-E, which led to the death of a Minnesota teenager and hospitalized several others, were passed into law as part of the larger Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. The legislation also includes provisions Klobuchar cosponsored banning harmful chemicals commonly found in bath salts and synthetic marijuana. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, which has jurisdiction over issues relating to drug control policy, and she has been a leader in strengthening drug safety standards to protect consumers.