Legislation will help law enforcement crack down on spread of synthetic marijuana
Today State Senators Sheila Harsdorf (R- River Falls) and Bob Jauch (D- Poplar) and Representative Garey Bies (R- Sister Bay) applauded the State Assembly’s passage of Senate Bill 325, which will strengthen state laws prohibiting synthetic marijuana. The lawmakers hailed passage of this legislation as demonstration by the Legislature that Wisconsin will not tolerate the sale of this poison to its citizens.
Last session, the Legislature made it illegal to possess, manufacture, distribute, or deliver synthetic marijuana. However, distributors have altered the synthetic formula making it difficult for prosecutors to try the cases. “Manufacturers of these synthetic substances found a loophole in our current law and they’re changing the make-up of these drugs quicker than we can ban them,” explained Bies. "Signing this bill into law will give DA’s the tools they need to bring successful cases against these individuals.”
SB325 provides a vastly more comprehensive list of illegal substances based on what our state crime labs are seeing and crime labs across the country. More importantly, this bill makes illegal any chemical substances that are similar in composition to the listed substances. This bill will put an end to the loophole, in which a drug’s chemistry is altered to avoid prosecution. Even if it is altered, if the drug maintains the same chemical structure- it is illegal. “No matter how hard the manufactures have worked to find loopholes in the law, we will work just has hard to close those loopholes and give law enforcement the tools to stop the sale of this poison” said Jauch.
The lawmakers pointed out that the synthetic marijuana plague is not just a regional problem but one that is considered “epidemic” across the country. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the number of calls to poison centers related to synthetic drugs soared from about 3,200 in 2010 to more than 13,000 in 2011 and over 20 deaths related to synthetic drugs were reported last year. A survey tracking teen drug abuse reported that one in every nine high school seniors have used synthetic marijuana.
“I am pleased that the Wisconsin State Legislature has been responsive to the needs of local officials who are on the front lines of combating illegal drugs and drug abuse,” Harsdorf stated. “This legislation will close loopholes in our state’s ban on synthetic drugs to help keep these dangerous substances out of the hands of our kids and help district attorneys prosecute offenders.”
The lawmakers said that the bipartisan bill was carefully drafted over the last year, with Attorney General Van Hollen and Department of Justice staff closely consulted throughout the process.