Press Releases

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today introduced the Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act, which would provide law enforcement with needed tools to prosecute producers and distributors of synthetic drugs.

Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined Feinstein and Portman in introducing the bill.

From January 2014 to November 2014, poison centers nationwide responded to approximately 3,900 calls related to synthetic drugs, which are unregulated substances designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances including cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, LSD and PCP. An estimated 250 synthetics, including K2, molly and spice, are available today. Synthetic drugs are packaged to appeal to young people and are widely available at gas stations, head shops and online.

“Synthetic drugs, which are pervasive in communities across the country, are often more dangerous than the drugs they are designed to imitate,” said Senator Feinstein. “Young people are aggressively targeted by the manufacturers of synthetic drugs, and our bill would help federal law enforcement protect our children by closing the loopholes that are exploited by manufacturers.”

“Dangerous synthetic drugs are plaguing Ohio communities, and this bill gives states new tools in the fight against drug abuse,” said Senator Portman. “By better enabling law enforcement to prosecute individuals who illegally produce and distribute these unregulated drugs, our bill will help keep dangerous synthetic drugs away from children.”

In 2012, Congress outlawed several synthetic drugs in the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act, but manufacturers and distributors slightly altered their chemical structure to circumvent the law. The bill addresses this problem by allowing the federal government to quickly update its list of banned synthetic drugs.

The Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act would:

  • Establish an inter-agency committee of scientists, headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which would be responsible for establishing and maintaining an administrative list of synthetic drugs or controlled substance analogues. The committee would be structured so that it could respond quickly and robustly to the threat.
  • Make it illegal to import a controlled substance analogue on the list unless the importation is intended for non-human use.
  • Direct the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review, and if appropriate, amend the federal sentencing guidelines.