Pubdate: Sun, 27 Mar 2011
Source: Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, PA)
Copyright: 2011 The Standard-Speaker
Author: Robert Swift


HARRISBURG - With new types of dangerous synthetic drugs quickly
appearing on the market, state lawmakers and law enforcement officials
face a challenge to keep legislation banning their sale up to date.

The House plans a final vote the week of April 4 on a bill to ban the
sale of "bath salts," which mimic the effects of cocaine and
methamphetamine, as well as other synthetic narcotics. This bill is a
conglomeration of proposals to add various synthetic narcotics sold in
different parts of the state to the list of controlled substances.
Once approved, this bill would go to the Senate, which has bills of
its own.

The House measure started out in January as a ban on salvia divinorum,
a hallucinogenic herb mixture. It has been amended to include bath
salts, synthetic marijuana and a synthetic cocaine known as "blizzard."

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association is specifically
calling for action this session to make bath salts and K2/Spice, a
chemically treated herb mixture, illegal.

The drafters of these bills use devices to put bans in place that are
comprehensive enough and necessarily adaptive to withstand the efforts
of synthetic drug makers to circumvent them.

"It's sometimes a cat-and-mouse game," said Richard Long, executive
director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.

The House bill contains a list of chemical compounds used in the
manufacture of synthetics that would be banned. One is
3.4-methlylenedoxpyrovaleone, or MDPV, used to make bath salts.

The list is developed by talking with scientists to find out what
compounds are being used and what potential variations could be
adapted, Long said.

Banning a chemical compound is more effective than simply listing a
trade name, said Bob Caton, spokesman for Rep. Jennifer Mann, D-132,
Allentown, who introduced a bill last session to ban synthetic marijuana.

"We go after the stuff that goes into making it," Caton

In an indication of how quickly synthetic drug use evolves, the
emergence of bath salts - which can induce strong paranoia and
delusion - only came after Mann's bill was introduced, he said.

The official list of controlled substances already includes peyote,
mescaline, and lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD, the counter-culture
"trip drug" of the 1960s.

Sen. Lisa Baker, R-20, Lehman Township, raised the issue of banning
bath salts last week as top state law enforcement officials appeared
at Senate budget hearings.

State Police Commissioner-designate Frank Noonan said a ban is

"It is necessary right now," he said while warning that new synthetics
would eventually appear on the scene.

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-18, Lehigh County, has sponsored a bill to ban
salvia and synthetic marijuana. Sen. Larry Farnese, D-1, Philadelphia,
is drafting a bill to ban bath salts.  
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