Minnesota Subcommittee Begins Looking into State's Synthetics Problem

By KBJR News 1

The sale of synthetic marijuana, or K2, has been banned in several Northland communities, including Duluth, Superior, and Hermantown.

July 9, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 6:06 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Minnesota representatives, lead by Rep. Erik Simonson, took their first steps today to combat the state's synthetic drugs problem.

The Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs held its first official meeting in the State Office Building in St. Paul, MN.

Simonson (DFL - Duluth) is chairman of the special subcommittee, which is studying the growing issue of the synthetic drug problem, a problem that is especially prevalent in Duluth, due to the active head shop Last Place on Earth.

“We know that synthetic drugs have been around for a number of years but the problem is growing,” says Simonson. “You could say that Duluth has one of the largest – if not the largest – problems in the state. But we also know the threat is growing across the state. Our committee will study the problem and present possible solutions to the full legislature next year.”

One of the things the committee will do is examine how other states are dealing with the problem. One state that has Simonson’s attention is Indiana, which this year banned “look-alikes”, which are drugs substantially similar to substances earlier banned by the legislature.

"We need to think outside the box," says Simonson. "The people who are making these synthetic drugs are anticipating our response. If we outlaw one substance, they’ll just tinker with the chemical makeup to escape that law. We need to come up with effective, long-lasting solutions, not short-term, stop-gap fixes.”

Testifying on the first day of hearings was Cody Wiberg of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy; Violet Stephens, a forensic scientist at the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Laboratory; Brian Marquart of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety; Karin Sonneman, Winona County Attorney; Christina Davenport, Assistant Winona County Attorney and Jon Holets, Assistant St. Louis County Attorney.

The next hearing will be August 22nd in Brainerd, MN.

Posted to the web by Krista Burns
kburns@kbjr.com