WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) to ban the sale of various synthetic drugs today passed the House Committee on the Judiciary. Following the bill’s passage in the Committee on Energy & Commerce earlier this year, approval by the Committee on the Judiciary essentially clears the way for the measure to be considered on the House floor later this fall.

“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,” said Rep. Dent. “The abuse of these drugs is a growing concern in communities across the country, as users are increasingly threatening public safety. 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 identifies chemical compounds that affect the brain in a manner similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and adds them to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I bans drugs and controlled substances that have high potential for abuse and have no use in medical treatment in the United States.

The bill also bans chemical compounds used in synthetic drugs commonly sold as ‘Bath Salts’ or ‘Plant Food’, which have been identified as cocaine substitutes. Abuse of bath salts has recently garnered much public attention in Pennsylvania, where disturbing cases of violent, erratic and dangerous behavior have been linked to recreational use of the substance.

Additionally, H.R. 1254 enhances the authority of DEA to temporarily ban drugs in the interest of public safety and provides greater time for the agency to prove a chemical is harmful, lacks medicinal or industrial value, and should be banned permanently.