Bill would update bath salts ban
HARRISBURG - Two years after a state ban on the sale of "bath salts" took effect, House lawmakers are moving to rewrite that law to help prosecutors stay abreast of synthetic drug makers trying to skirt the ban.
A bill approved last week by the House Judiciary Committee would expand the specific types of chemicals, compounds and substitutes related to bath salts and synthetic marijuana that are listed as prohibited substances. It would include language from the federal Controlled Substances Act as part of state law.
The Pennsylvania State Police have been involved in efforts to draft the legislation, said agency spokeswoman Maria Finn.The 2011 law bans bath salts, synthetic marijuana, 2-ce and salvia divinorum, a hallucogenic herb mixture, and the compounds used to make them on the state list of controlled substances. The law sets penalties for possession of these substances with intent to deliver at five years in prison and a $15,000 fine, and for simple possession at a maximum of one year in prison and $5,000 fine.
A sponsor of that law has sponsored the bill to expand the list of banned synthetic compounds.
"The problem is that criminals are always changing their formulations for these drugs in order to circumvent the law," said Rep. Jerry Stern, R-80, Hollidaysburg. "This new legislation will expand the list of synthetic compounds within the current law to make it easier for law enforcement to keep up with small chemical changes designed to skirt the law." The provisions in the current law have sparked debate among chemists about which compounds found on the street fall under the ban, he said.
Stern said the bill was drafted with the help of the State Police laboratory and Philadelphia Police Department laboratory.
The initial state ban came after a spate of reports from local police about bizarre and violent behavior by synthetic drug users. Drug users can experience paranoia, hallucinations and often commit violent acts.
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