Vote delayed on new synthetic drug bill

State lawmakers want to ban synthetic drugs known by names like Spice and Bath Salts but, so far, they’ve been unsuccessful and the latest effort to pass an effective law has hit a snag.

The synthetic drugs are sold over the counter in convenience stores, smoke shops, and elsewhere.  Two previous attemps to outlaw them by banning specific compounds led state Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) to deliver a message to an Indiana House Committee.  “It’s not working,” he said.

With mounting reports of young people experiencing adverse effects, seizures, and even suicide, Merritt had a another message as well, saying, “These synthetic drugs are going to overpower our communities.”

Sen. Merritt is back asking for help because a law signed by Governor Mitch Daniels last year prompted the makers of synthetic drugs to create new compounds.  A July I-team 8 report detailed how Lawrence police confiscated over 400 packets of synthetic drugs only to find that no law was broken.  “It’s very frustrating,” said Captain Curtis Bigsby at the time, “but hopefully we can put some more laws in place.”

Back at the committee meeting constitutional questions were raised by Larry Landis of the Public Defenders Council, who said, “I don’t know of any state that has gone this far.”  And the committee delayed the vote on a new synthetic drug bill for at least a week.

The frustration builds. “We need to get it in the governor’s hands as soon as possible,” said Sen. Merritt, “sign it into law and put the tools in the attorney general’s hands.”  Committee members say it’s better to wait and get things right rather than to pass a law that would be struck down by the courts.

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