In The News

December 5, 2011

House to vote on synthetic marijuana ban this week

By Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill

The House this week is expected to pass legislation that bans synthetic drugs that can affect the brain in ways similar to the active ingredient in marijuana.

The Synthetic Drug Control Act, H.R. 1254, was introduced in March by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), and was approved by the House Judiciary Committee in early November by voice vote.

"The passage of H.R. 1254 in the Committee on the Judiciary represents another important step in efforts to ban the sale of new and dangerous synthetic drugs," Dent said after committee passage.

"The abuse of these drugs is a growing concern in communities across the country, as users are increasingly threatening public safety," he said. "Despite ongoing reports of individuals reacting violently to synthetic substances, drugs like 'bath salts' and 'plant food' are still sold legally in many states. It is time for Congress to ban these destructive substances and put an end to their sale."

The bill would put 16 "cannabimimetic" and 15 hallucinogenic drugs that can now be bought legally on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which bans drugs that have a high potential for abuse and have no use in medical treatment.

Supporters of the bill argue that many of these substances are sold in products labeled as bath salts and plant food, which can lead to abuse of these products.

"While many Americans may not be familiar with these new synthetic drugs, a growing number of families across the country are discovering they are as dangerous and destructive as more traditional drugs like cocaine and crystal meth," Dent said earlier this year.

The House is expected to vote on Dent's bill as early as Tuesday, and will also take up H.R. 313, the Drug Trafficking Safe Harbor Elimination Act. That bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to say that anyone in the U.S. involved in possession or trafficking of controlled substances outside the U.S. will be subject to the same penalties as if these activities took place in the United States.

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