New Committee Brainstorms Ways to Combat Synthetic Drugs

Posted at: 07/09/2013 6:05 PM | Updated at: 07/09/2013 10:50 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

Synthetic drugs are once again in the spotlight, but this time on a statewide level.

Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, chairs the Controlled Substance and Synthetic Drugs Committee, and Tuesday, the group got together in Saint Paul for their first official hearing.

"We need to come up with a solution that stops this once and for all," Simonson said.

The group of lawmakers held the hearing in order to start brainstorming solutions and lay the groundwork for possible legislation. They were joined by area experts and agency representatives who shared ideas.

"The issue is the users of these drugs don't know what they're getting package to package," Cody Wiberg with the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy said. "They are far, far more dangerous."

Wiberg said legislation allowing his team to issue cease and desist orders and embargo the drugs from retailers might help fight the problem.

"I'm hopeful with the actions that can be taken that maybe in a year from now we can get rid of the retail sales," Wiberg said.

Another approach that Simonson said would compliment Wiberg's idea is passing the "look alike" bill Simonson already filed.

"I think our main strategy is going to be focused on establishing a law that essentially bans the sale of synthetic drugs, regardless of the makeup of the drug," Simonson said.

Simonson said his bill would accomplish that and Saint Louis County Assistant Attorney Jon Holets said he thought the bill was a good idea.

"It certainly takes a common sense approach to the problem we have," Holets said.

Simonson said Duluth is one of the Minnesota cities most affected by the sale of synthetic drugs.

"We're on par, in terms of number of cases, with the metro area which is unusual for Duluth," Simonson said.

Simonson said he hopes new legislation will change that. Lawmakers will take up the "look alike" bill in their next session. The committee will meet several more times before that.

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