WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Patrick Meehan (PA-7) during a press conference today at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) discussed legislation to ban various synthetic drug substitutes sold legally in most states, including Pennsylvania. Reps. Dent and Meehan were joined by Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, Director of CHOP’s Poison Control Center, as well as District Attorneys from the greater Philadelphia region.

“Americans are quickly becoming familiar with the dangers of synthetic drugs, like bath salts,” said Rep. Dent. “Until recently, stories of individuals abusing these substances were very rare. Now, Pennsylvanians are frequently reading disturbing accounts involving the behavior of synthetic drug users. It is time for Congress to ban these destructive substances and put an end to their legal sale in our communities.”

“Synthetic drug abuse is reaching extremely dangerous proportions in other regions and is growing quickly here at home,” said Rep. Meehan.  “It is sold online and easily available to teens. Since it is currently legal, it gives users the mistaken belief that it is somehow safe.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, much of the MDVP is manufactured in China and no one knows for sure what it is made of.”

“The dangerous chemicals sold as “bath salts” are diabolical drugs which can cause real harm,” said Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, medical director of The Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “These drugs are especially dangerous because they pretend to be harmless, are untested, and are readily available to teens and young adults in community stores and online.”

The Synthetic Drug Control Act (H.R. 1254), authored by Rep. Dent and cosponsored by Rep. Meehan, 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. 1224 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.