Friday, January 1, 2016

Legislature will again tackle challenge of synthetic drugs

The Kentucky General Assembly will "intensify efforts against synthetic drugs that can slip into communities via the Internet, wreaking sudden havoc," Mike Wynn reports for The Courier-Journal. "The legislature has enacted at least four bills targeting synthetics since 2010 and is seeking to amp up penalties for traffickers next year following an outbreak in Lewis County of the toxic synthetic drug called flakka'."

“They are no less dangerous than anything else out there, and in many cases, more dangerous,” Van Ingram, head of the state Office of Drug Control Policy, told Wynn. “It seems to pop up in a certain community and makes a run for a short time. Then it fizzles out there and shows up somewhere else.”

Wynn explains, "Synthetic drugs are chemically engineered to mimic the effects of other controlled substances, ranging from marijuana to methamphetamine. Some products are smoked and others injected, and experts warn that the drugs can produce severe and unexpected side-effects." Legislators have tried to deal with the issue, but "Drug chemists continued to modify their formulas to circumvent the law," Wynn notes.

One proposal would raise the penalty for the first offense of trafficking in synthetics from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, to a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison. "House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said the measure offers bipartisan appeal and already has backing from community groups, law enforcement and prosecutors," Wynn reports. "He said the outlook for passing legislation is good."

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