Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed into law a measure that makes it illegal to sell or possess synthetic drugs, including “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana.
The state had previously passed legislation that banned many chemicals found in synthetic drugs, but manufacturers were able to change formulas to keep them legal, WKU Public Radio reports. The new law is designed to be more comprehensive, by banning entire classes of synthetic drugs, not just compounds. The measure extends seizure and forfeiture laws to retailers who sell the drugs. It makes sales a felony for a second or subsequent offense, and makes simple possession a misdemeanor.
“This measure will curtail underground chemists from tweaking a formula to get around a ban on a specific chemical substance and will go a long way toward protecting our communities and our families,” Governor Beshear said in a news release.
Often marketed as legal substances, synthetic drugs are sometimes labeled as “herbal incense” or “bath salts” and sold in small pouches or packets over the Internet, in tobacco and smoke shops, drug paraphernalia shops, gas stations, and convenience stores. In December, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released new information indicating that one in nine high school seniors had used “Spice” or “K2” over the past year, making synthetic marijuana the second most frequently used illicit drug, after marijuana, among high school seniors. Poison control centers operating across the nation have also reported sharp increases in the number of calls relating to synthetic drugs.
Last month, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that prohibits the sale of synthetic drugs. The measure makes it illegal to sell synthetic marijuana and bath salts anywhere in the United States, regardless of local laws. First-time offenders will receive up to 20 years in prison, and repeat sellers will receive up to 30 years.
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