More Than Half of Opioid Overdose Deaths Caused by Synthetic Drugs
More than half of opioid overdose deaths are caused by synthetic drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Senate last week passed a bill that would prohibit the sale of synthetic drugs. The bill had been held up in the Senate for months by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. New York Senator Charles Schumer was able to get the bill passed by attaching it to a larger Food and Drug Administration bill, the New York Daily News reports.
The bill passed 96-1, the article notes.
“Let this be a warning to those who make a profit manufacturing and selling killer chemical components to our teens and children: the jig is up,” Senator Schumer said in a statement. “This bill closes loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensures that you cannot simply cross state lines to find these deadly synthetic drugs.”
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.
A similar bill passed the House last December. Senator Schumer said he expects the ban to be on President Obama’s desk by July 4. When it is signed into law, the bill will make 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.