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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has been blocking Senate action on legislation to outlaw a host of synthetic drugs, which are growing in popularity and have been linked to illnesses and deaths. The Kentucky Senator has impeded bills that appear to have minimal opposition, and has faced bi-partisan criticism from his fellow Senators and Kentucky anti-drug officials, The Courier-Journal reports.

At issue are three bills targeting legally sold synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine and other controlled substances, but are marketed as safe alternatives to their illegal counterparts. The contested legislation would make illegal the use, possession and sale of certain chemicals used in production of synthetic drugs.

Manufacturers of the substances import them into the United States labeled as, among other things, incense, bath salts, snow remover and plant food.

“It is time for the Senate to take action,” said Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a sponsor of one of the bills. “We cannot let the will of just one Senator obstruct the will of many.”

“One Senator shouldn’t be able to prevent a vote on something that 99 percent of Americans want, that directly affects their health and safety and the health and safety of their children,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) sponsor of another bill aimed at synthetic drugs.

The Senate Judiciary Panel passed three measures by voice vote in July of last year, while the House of Representatives passed a companion bill in December on a bipartisan vote of 317-98.

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