MN House Committee Delves into Synthetic Drugs

By KBJR News 1

February 27, 2013 Updated Feb 27, 2013 at 11:42 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A Minnesota House Committee is delving into the problematic concerns raised by Synthetic Drugs across the state.

It's no secret Duluth has been ground zero in the ongoing battle over synthetic drugs, with the Last Place on Earth on Superior Street being the target.

Wednesday morning, the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee heard grim testimony about adverse effects synthetics have on users, police resources and on the community.

The Last Place on Earth has been at the center of controversy for selling the product. It's been raided by authorities twice and is now involved in multiple legal battles including facing an injunction to shut the business down.

This morning's hearing didn't introduce any legislation, but members said it was chance to learn the scope of the issue in Duluth and across the state.

"We've had individuals who've pulled their eyeballs out, they're chewing on their arms, they're pulling out their teeth, Chief Gordon Ramsay testified. "Last Friday we received a call of a woman having a miscarriage, when Fire got there, they couldn't find her. Her friend said she was running to the local synthetic shop to get more synthetic drugs."

"It's just frustrating that one business can create chaos, ill will, and resentment within our neighborhood," Kristi Stokes, president of the Greater Downtown Council testified. "A neighboring business of this store front has seen losses of a $1,000 a day.

Committee members suggested introducing educational material and innovative thinking to combat what some say is an epidemic.

Lawmakers have introduced previous legislation involving synthetic drugs, but officials say it isn't enough.

Chief Gordon Ramsay said he wants to see the law broadened so officials can add new chemicals to the statute and increase the penalty for selling the drug.

Representative Erik Simonson (DFL - Duluth) said Wednesday's hearing sparks the right discussion, for not only Duluth but the entire state to understand what some are calling an epidemic.

He expects tighter legislation to be introduced next session.

Kevin Jacobsen
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