WASHINGTON, D.C. Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) to combat the growing abuse of synthetic drugs today passed the powerful House Committee on Energy & Commerce, clearing the way for future consideration on the House floor. Dent’s legislation, the Synthetic Drug Control Act (H.R. 1254), has been gaining momentum in the House due to a national rise in hospitalizations and deaths related to synthetic drug use.

“I am very pleased H.R. 1254 has taken another crucial step toward becoming law,” Rep. Dent said. “I thank Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman for their support and commitment to moving this bill through the Energy & Commerce Committee. I look forward to H.R. 1254 being considered on the House floor soon and anticipate its passage with strong bipartisan support.”

H.R. 1254 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.