Minnesota House Unanimously Bans Synthetic Drugs

By Shawn Dwyer 04/10/14

The new law would go a long way in restricting the sale of synthetics in retail shops, but does little to curb sales online.

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Legislators in Minnesota unanimously passed a bill that would give the state greater authority to stop retailers from selling synthetic drugs. The bill was passed 130-0 and is expected to receive strong support from the senate.

“This will be the tool that will once and for all stop retail sales of synthetic drugs,” said Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, chief sponsor of the measure. If signed into law, the bill will close loopholes in a three-year old state law that was designed to restrict the sale of synthetic drugs, many of which simulate the effects of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Under the new bill, the state’s Board of Pharmacy would be granted power to issue cease-and-desist orders to shops that are selling banned substances. The measure would also expand the definition of synthetic drugs beyond specific compounds to include “any combination of chemicals that produce the same effects as banned drugs.”

“We’ve done some research and this is the first time we’ve been able to find a state that has attempted this,” Simonson said. “It’s kind of groundbreaking and we’re excited about it.”

While the new law takes great strides in banning sales from brick and mortar shops, it does little to curb online sales of synthetics, a problem that did not go unnoticed. “Never have we claimed that we’re going to end the problem,” said Cody Wiberg, executive director of the Board of Pharmacy. “Trying to prevent people from buying these things online is a much more difficult proposition.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.