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The U.S. Senate passed a bill outlawing synthetic drugs this week, and awaits President Obama’s signature, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 bans drugs such as “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana at the federal level.

“Widely available and easy to purchase synthetic drugs have taken a dangerous toll on American families and communities. My amendment to ban these drugs at the federal level will better enable federal and state authorities to combat this growing epidemic,” Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a news release. In May 2012, Senator Portman introduced an amendment to a Senate Food and Drug Administration bill that would implement a federal ban on synthetic drugs.

According to a news release from the office of Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the amendment included three bills relating to synthetic substances: one for bath salts, one for synthetic marijuana, and one for synthetic hallucinogens.

Synthetic drugs are readily available online, the article notes. The bill outlaws sales of synthetic drugs by both retail stores and online retailers.

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.


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