The U.S. House of Representatives approved this Wednesday on a bipartisan “voice vote” a national ban on synthetic drugs, including the dangerous street drug bath salts.
The bill, endorsed by the U.S. Senate in May, overcame opposition from Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who placed a senatorial hold because of an objection with “harsh mandatory minimum sentences” which were removed from the final version passed as an attachment to a FDA regulatory bill.
Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) – a self-professed “national crusader” against bath salts -- said he was "very pleased" that Congress is finally moving forward with legislation to address the bath salts crisis. The potential legislation is set for a final vote in the Senate as early as next week, and will then make it to the desk of President Barack Obama who would sign it into law.
The bill would ban 22 synthetic chemicals used to make street drugs – including synthetic marijuana. It is a combination of three bills previously introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn). If becomes law, the bill could carry a penalty of up to 30 years for those caught selling the deadly drug.
Under current law, the Drug Enforcement Administration can ban new and emerging drugs if they and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services demonstrate within 18 months that the drug is harmful and lacks medicinal or industrial value. However, provisions in the new bill will increase this period of time to up to three years so the agencies have the time to fully investigate these creatively manufactured and marketed emerging drugs.