WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) today to introduce legislation to ban the chemicals commonly used in synthetic drugs known as “K2” or “Spice,” among other names.
“Synthetic marijuana poses a serious health risk – with an escalating number of thousands of calls into poison control centers around the country. The DEA needs to have the authority to quickly withdraw dangerous substances from store shelves as soon as they emerge as a public health threat,” said Senator Feinstein, Chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.
“People are buying this drug so easily at the local mall or online that they think it’s safe,” Grassley said. “The marketing is deceptive and the product is readily available, which both make the drug seem harmless. It’s anything but harmless. People including a young Iowan have died or been seriously injured because of this product. Congress needs to permanently control the substances used in this drug so no more lives are lost.”
Hatch said, “With impressionable youth and young adults in Utah and across the nation abusing ‘Spice’ and other synthetic drugs, it is important to head off this fast-growing epidemic with legislation that permanently bans the chemicals in these synthetic drugs that are wreaking such havoc in so many lives.”
Hagan said, “Military installation commanders from across North Carolina want the chemicals in these drugs banned. It is critical to the well being, safety and mission readiness of our troop. This legislation will protect North Carolina service members and families from dangerous synthetic drugs, and I am working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to advance this important bill in Congress.”
The legislation is called the Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011 and the David Mitchell Rozga Act, S. 605, named for the 18-year-old Iowan who took his own life soon after using K2 purchased from his local shopping mall. Poison control centers and emergency rooms around the country are reporting skyrocketing cases of calls and visits resulting from K2 use, with physical effects including increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures. A number of people across the country have acted violently while under the influence of the drug, dying or injuring themselves and others.
Many states have acted to ban the sale and possession of the chemical compounds found in these products. Many more states, counties and communities throughout the country have proposed bans or are in the process of banning these products. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has banned five chemicals found in K2. However, this ban will last only for one year with an option to extend the ban for an additional six months. There is no guarantee that the chemicals will be banned permanently in the timeframe allowed.
The legislation introduced today would impose a permanent ban on the five chemicals initially banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration, plus additional chemicals, used to make the drug. The legislation treats K2 like other banned narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine.