A recent bizarre incident in Miami, in which a man stripped naked and ate the face of another man, while allegedly high on “bath salts,” has renewed calls for banning synthetic drugs. U.S. News & World Report notes that both the House and Senate have passed bills banning the drugs, but so far have not been able to pass an identical bill.
The differences in the two bills include which chemicals to ban, and whether there should be mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers of synthetic drugs, the article notes.
“Quite simply, these chemicals are dangerous and do not belong on store shelves,” Maine Senator Susan Collins, a cosponsor of the Senate bill, said in a news release. “The longer we wait to seriously address this issue, the more people we put at risk. Congress must take action.”
According to New York Senator Charles Schumer, who was able to get the bill passed by attaching it to a larger Food and Drug Administration bill, the measure closes loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensures that a person cannot simply cross state lines to find synthetic drugs.
The Senate bill would make it illegal to sell synthetic marijuana and bath salts anywhere in the United States, regardless of local laws. First-time offenders would receive up to 20 years in prison, and repeat sellers would receive up to 30 years.
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. Poison control centers operating across the nation have reported sharp increases in the number of calls relating to synthetic drugs.
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