Reps. Cicilline, Katko Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Synthetic Drug Epidemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) joined U.S. Congressman John Katko (R-NY) to announce bipartisan legislation that they have introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to ban dangerous synthetic substances. The Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act addresses the recent surge in synthetic drug use by specifically banning 22 synthetic chemicals, including 11 used to create synthetic marijuana.

“Easy access to dangerous synthetic drugs poses an immediate threat to the health and well-being of men, women, and children across our country,” said Rep. Cicilline. “This legislation makes it easier for authorities to crack down on these dangerous substances and keep families safe. I’m pleased to be joining Congressman Katko today and working across the aisle to get this done.”

“Sadly, Syracuse has become known ‘Spike Nation,’ suffering from a surge in abuse of synthetic drugs,” said Representative Katko. “This scourge has hit Central New York families hard – like Teresa Woolson from Oswego, who lost her son Victor to synthetic drugs in 2012. Teresa has worked tirelessly to combat this public health epidemic. For Teresa and the many advocates that fight beside her in Central New York, I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that takes aim at this threat. The bill I’ve introduced will provide support to our local law enforcement in removing these dangerous substances from our streets and will make it more difficult for manufacturers to produce this poison. I’m grateful for the bipartisan support of Rep. Cicilline, and look forward to working together to ensure that this bill moves forward in the House.”

Currently, it is difficult to regulate and prosecute synthetic drug use and distribution. While Congress took action in 2012 to outlaw several synthetic drugs, manufacturers and distributors of these substances are able to slightly alter the chemical structure of drugs to circumvent this law and avoid law enforcement scrutiny and prosecution.

Current laws are not keeping up with the producers of these poisonous substances, and consequently, substances designed to mimic the effects of LSD, Ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, and other hard drugs are sold openly at convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and other outlets, and giving some users the assumption that they are not as dangerous as other, illegal substances.

The Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016 addresses this difficulty by adding 22 synthetic substances, including dangerous forms of fentanyl, to Schedule I of Controlled Substances Act. Doing so will provide law enforcement and prosecutors a greater ability to crack down on synthetic drug traffickers, and reduce the availability of legal synthetic substances to manufacturers of these drugs.

Senators Grassley and Schumer have introduced a bipartisan measure in the Senate.