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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, December 09, 2011

Dent's Synthetic Drug Bill Passes House

LV Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15) to ban the sale of various synthetic drugs, known as bath salts and spice, yesterday passed the U.S. House of Representatives in a 317-98, according to a Washington Post account..

“I first learned about the dangers of new synthetic drugs after reading an email from a constituent whose son’s life had nearly been destroyed by his abuse of synthetic marijuana or ‘spice’,” said Dent in a statement after the vote. “Following that initial contact, a growing number of local residents shared with me powerful stories involving their own abuse of synthetic drugs or the destructive impact these substances have had on loved ones.”

“Most shocking to me was the realization that these dangerous compounds could be purchased legally in stores across the country,” added Dent. “I knew then it was time for Congress to move to ban the sale of these emerging synthetic drugs, which have thus far demonstrated no medicinal value.”

You could pick them up, along with bongs and other supplies, at many gas stations. When I asked about them one night, a Clerk assured me I'd get a better high than from the real thing.

In March 30, Dent introduced the Synthetic Drug Control Act, which identifies chemical compounds that affect the brain in a manner similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. It adds them to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I bans drugs and controlled substances that have high potential for abuse and have no use in medical treatment in the United States.

The bill also bans chemical compounds used in synthetic drugs commonly sold as ‘bath salts’ or ‘plant food’, which have been identified as cocaine substitutes. Abuse of bath salts has recently garnered much public attention in Pennsylvania, where disturbing cases of violent, erratic and dangerous behavior have been linked to recreational use of the substance.

Dent's legislation also enhances the authority of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to temporarily ban drugs in the interest of public safety and provides greater time for the agency to prove a chemical is harmful, lacks medicinal or industrial value, and should be banned permanently.

The legislation is supported by numerous law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In a September letter declaring the Department’s support for H.R. 1254, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich explained, “Products containing synthetic drugs are dangerous and represent a growing challenge to law enforcement.” The legislation is also supported by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

Earlier this fall, the Committee on Energy & Commerce and the Committee on the Judiciary passed the bill with no opposition, clearing the way for H.R. 1254 to be considered on the House floor.

“I am extremely pleased the House has passed H.R. 1254,” continued Dent. “I am hopeful the U.S. Senate will now move this legislation in a timely manner, allowing President Obama to sign the bill into law as soon as possible. I am confident banning the sale of dangerous synthetic drugs will help save lives in communities across the United States, including the 15th District.”


Lighthouse said...

I know much of PA drug law is pegged to the CSA, but that bath salts have been banned in PA since summer. Yet, if I recall, Dent did jump on this--to his credit--around the same time our state legislators were.

While incumbents enjoy many advantages, including the fact that Americans have historically rated Congress poorly while liking their own Congressman, I have to wonder if Dent still doesn't have some vulnerabilities. Its a weird mix out there. Many of us Republican-leaning centrists (AKA the RINOS for the purists who drove us all out) are not happy with Obama and the Dems but also see Republicans--as a party--as not representing us beyond the lip service, and just being plain obstructionist for purely political reasons rather than whats good for the country as a whole. Despite liking Dent, part of me wants to vote straight Democrat just to force what used to be called pragmatism and compromise. DC has become way to polarized, and its slowly seeping into the populace as a whole. Tea Nuts and Flea Nuts have nuts in common.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Your remarks are right on the money. I am embarrassed by a polarized Congress and blame both parties. We see it here, too. Nobody seems willing to look at the other side, instead choosing to vilify them. But I believe Congressman like Dent is part of the answer to this problem.

Anonymous said...

I guess the wars are over and the economy is fixed. Otherwise, activity on this kind of legislation would be ridiculous. Hats off to Charlie for achieving peace in our time and economic stability. I'm surprised you didn't blog about that before this.

And politicians wonder why they are so despised.

Zorn the Great said...

i find it hard to belief that 95 so called congressmen would vote against.

Anonymous said...

LOL.....yes Dent is part of the answer to the problem. Because he has done so much in his time in Congress. We know your smitten, but he is a do nothing. He has great name recognition and constituent outreach, I'll give him that.


CT said...

Expanding prohibition does not save lives. People with substance abuse problems will find substances, whether by legal or illegal methods. What they need is access to treatment and support, not jail time and criminal records.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Charlie Dent for letting the tax cut on middle class families run out while you take the offensive on synthetic drugs.

Your Congress living in 1894 and proud of it!