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New bill gives state more power to prosecute cases involving dangerous synthetic drugs

A bill currently under consideration in the House would give the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals the right to investigate any product suspected to contain illegal synthetic drugs, to declare it hazardous and issue an order to stop selling the product.

The bill is a response to what is said to be a proliferation of synthetic drugs disguised as common household products. Such synthetic drugs are, authorities say, created in order to get around existing drug laws by modifying the chemical structure of analogs or derivatives of already existing drugs. In other instances, such drugs have entirely different chemical structures, but produce effects similar to standard illegal drugs. Various states have been cracking down on synthetic drugs recently, following widespread reports of the dangerous effects of synthetic drugs common sold as "bath salts."

Under the bill, a drug that proves to be hazardous can be pulled of shelves wherever it is being sold and held as contraband. If the decision to do so is approved by the legislature, the product would then be added to the list of illegal drugs.

Another type of synthetic marijuana was also added to the bill, which had already been outlawed by the department of Health and Hospitals, but which prosecutors had been reluctant to prosecute out of concern that the agency hadn't complied with the process necessary to make the substances illegal.

Under the bill, those who violate a stop order can be fined $500 and made to spend two years in prison, with each day of continued violation counting as a separate offense.

Source: Shreveport Times, "Bills seek to stop illegal drugs," Mike Hasten, May 26, 2012. 

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