U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, left, has put a hold on several Senate bills aimed at banning chemicals used in synthetic drugs because he feels "enforcement of most drug laws can and should be local and state issues," said his spokeswoman Moira Bagley. The move has been criticized by other lawmakers, law enforcement and a woman from his home city whose daughter had a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana. (Photo by Matt Goins)
"When Ashley Stillwell, 19, bowed to peer pressure last August and smoked a substance called 7H, it quickly immobilized her," reports Bill Estep for the Lexington Herald-Leader. "Ashley's frightened friends poured water on her and shook her. When they couldn't rouse her, Ashley heard the others discuss dumping her body in the Barren River."
The teen recovered after she was taken to the hospital, but her mother Amy, of Bowling Green, is frustrated by Paul's move to block the legislation. Three Senate measures passed committee last summer, and the House voted 371-98 in December to approve a ban on synthetic drug chemicals. Senate rules allow one member to place a hold on a bill. "That doesn't mean it can't be voted on, but it slows the process and raises some hurdles," Estep reports.
Bagley said Paul is concerned about banning the substances before research can be done on them. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowan Republican who sponsored one of the bills, said reclassifying the chemicals as controlled substances would not prevent research from being conducted. "We cannot let the will of just one senator obstruct the will of many," Grassley said.
One in nine high-school seniors had used a substance known as K2 or Spice in the past year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in December. That makes synthetic marijuana the second most-abused drug in that age group. Calls to poison-control centers about synthetic drugs have risen from 3,200 in 2010 to 13,000 last year, Estep reports.
White House drug chief Gil Kerlikowske said his office is "urging the Senate to pass that legislation." (Read more)