Updated: 01/29/2014 6:14 PM
Created: 01/29/2014 4:43 PM WDIO.com
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.
Scannell Case in Jury's Hands, No Verdict Thursday
The case against Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell is now in the hands of a jury after closing arguments took place Thursday afternoon. The jury began deliberations at just after 5 p.m. and they adjourned for the night just after 8 p.m.
Dept. of Health Warns of E. Coli Levels at Lake Superior Beaches
With warmer temperatures, more people are hitting the water. Swimmers may still be wary of the cool water of Lake Superior, but there's something else swimmers should be aware of and you can't see it - it's E. coli.
Tree Removal for Two-mile Reconstruction of Duluth's 4th Street Draws Ire
The future of Duluth's 4th Street was a heated topic Thursday night, as St. Louis County engineers discussed tree removal plans.
Wisconsin's 74th Assembly Seat Debate Hits on Mining Issues
Mining was a hot issue during the debate for Wisconsin's 74th Assembly seat Wednesday night. Two democrats are vying for Rep. Janet Bewley's open seat.
WITC-Superior Receives $900K State Grant
Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Superior is getting grant money from the state to help fund more sections of high-demand welding programs.