Legislature will again tackle challenge of synthetic drugs

The Kentucky General Assembly will “intensify efforts against synthetic
drugs that can slip into communities via the Internet, wreaking sudden
havoc,” Mike Wynn reports for The Courier-Journal. “The legislature has enacted at least four bills targeting
synthetics since 2010 and is seeking to amp up penalties for traffickers
next year following an outbreak in Lewis County of the toxic synthetic
drug called flakka’.”

“They are no less dangerous than anything
else out there, and in many cases, more dangerous,” Van Ingram,
head of the state Office of Drug Control Policy, told Wynn. “It seems to pop up in a
certain community and makes a run for a short time. Then it fizzles out
there and shows up somewhere else.”

Wynn explains, “Synthetic drugs are
chemically engineered to mimic the effects of other controlled
substances, ranging from marijuana to methamphetamine. Some products are
smoked and others injected, and experts warn that the drugs can produce
severe and unexpected side-effects.” Legislators have tried to deal with the issue, but “Drug chemists continued to modify their formulas to circumvent the law,” Wynn notes.

One proposal would raise the penalty for the first offense of trafficking in synthetics from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, to a Class D felony, punishable by one to five years in prison. “House Majority Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said the measure
offers bipartisan appeal and already has backing from community groups,
law enforcement and prosecutors,” Wynn reports. “He said the outlook for passing
legislation is good.”

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