Can Minn. Lawmakers Close Legal Loopholes for Synthetic Drugs?

Updated: 01/29/2014 6:14 PM
Created: 01/29/2014 4:43 PM
By: Travis Dill

Duluth Rep. Erik Simonson led a committee of state lawmakers in St. Paul on Wednesday that unveiled recommendations on synthetic drug laws. Police hope the changes would close loopholes that keep sellers out of jail.

Simonson chairs the House Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs. After a committee meeting Wednesday morning, he said lawmakers want to make life easier for police and prosecutors fighting synthetic drugs in Minnesota.

“What we've come up with today, in terms of a passed set of recommendations to the speaker, is a good set of recommendations. It carries obviously strong bipartisan support, and we think it essentially will be good for Minnesota,” Simonson said.

Duluth is familiar with the battle, and Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said closing The Last Place on Earth has improved things in town.

“Synthetics hasn't totally gone away, but I mean it's night and day difference,” Ramsay said.

The drugs are still being sold across the state because legal definitions cannot keep up with the changing drug formulas. Simonson's committee wants to define “drug” as any substance not approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.

Ramsay said that would make it easier to put sellers behind bars.

“Several of my colleagues from across the state have called and asked for advice and we went through a lot of the struggles we had in Duluth, and this law would close a lot of the loopholes that exist now,” Ramsay said.

He said it would save the state money on the numerous and costly tests currently used to prove the drugs are illegal.

The law changes would also train prosecutors on the best practices of prosecuting synthetic drug cases.

Simonson said a bill would be drafted after lawmakers get back to work at the capital on Feb. 25. He hopes bipartisan support can carry the changes into law this spring.

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