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Minnesota Bill Would Ban All Unapproved Synthetic Drugs

A proposed law would ban all ingested or inhaled substances that provide illicit drug-like effects unless they are FDA approved.

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No more variations. Shutterstock

By Bryan Le

03/19/14

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In the fight against synthetic designer drugs, politicians and law enforcement have been playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Synthetic drugs must be banned one at a time and put on a list of illegal chemicals, only to see new variations routinely pop up, which can make cracking down on them a long and difficult process.

But the state of Minnesota may have come up with a possible solution. Recently, the state house judiciary panel passed a bill that would ban any inhaled or ingested drug that has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, while also causing effects similar to federally controlled substances like heroin or LSD.

If passed, the proposal would allow the state's Board of Pharmacy to stop stores from selling such drugs. "We're five steps behind," said Rep. Brian Johnson, a Republican from Cambridge. "Law enforcement needs to be in front." The bill has been submitted to the House Health and Human Services Policy committee for review.

Included in the proposal is a $100,000 budget designed to educate middle and high school kids on synthetic drugs, which arose from Attorney General Lori Swanson's statement to the house panel about her frustrations in trying to keep up with new variations of designer drugs that inevitably pop up after a previous one is banned.

"It really became a game of Whac-A-Mole," Swanson said. "On and on it went, as the industry and the sellers tried to get ahead of the laws."

While a step forward, the proposed bill only grants authorities control over everything sold in stores and does nothing to address sales via the internet, where a huge and often anonymous market for synthetic drugs thrives.

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