Minnesota is Cracking Down on Synthetics with a New Commitee at the Capitol

By KBJR News 1

July 10, 2013 Updated Jul 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.COM)

Minnesotans may soon be seeing much stricter laws on synthetic drugs.

The newly formed Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs gathered for the first time at the Capitol to talk synthetics, and help solve this very real problem.

The goal of the committee is to both educate about synthetics drugs and create legislation to fight the problem.

A problem that's especially prevalent in Duluth, due to the active head shop Last Place on Earth.

Rep. Erik Simonson says he worries about the negative effects the drugs are having on the community.

"Whether it be from a public health perspective in terms of the resources it's consuming on a regular basis, or from our law enforcement, our ambulance, our fire response, our local hospitals. You can look at it from an economic perspective in terms of the impact on downtown businesses and folks that just refuse to go down there any longer, and it's got to be effecting tourism."

But Simonson was not the only one concerned about the hold synthetics has had on Duluth.

"The city of Duluth moved a bus stop, people have to walk around vomit," says Dan Schoen, commitee member.

"I was personally hoping that when the sale of synthetic cannabinoid went from gross misdemeanor to felony that the gentleman up in Duluth would not want to risk a felony conviction, but he continues," says Cody Wiberg of the Minnesota Board of Pharmacy.

Minnesota agencies from across the state rallied at the capitol to say what tools they would need to help fix the problem.

"The one strategy that seems to be absent is the public education strategy," says Wade Setter, Superintendent of the BCA.

Which is especially important because the names of the drugs can be quite misleading.

"Do not call it fake pot," Wiberg states emphatically.

Other common synthetic terms may seem appealing to younger users ....

"King Kong, Spice, Diamond, smoke, Yukatan Fire," Law enforcement officer, Brian Marquart informs.

But the real show stealer of the day was Simonson's new legislation mirroring Indianas Look–A–Like bill. The bill will esentially state that any product being sold with the common knowledge of being used as a drug is illegal.

"Here's the reason I like it. Because judges understand it. They understand it already," says Jon Holets , Assistant St. Louis County Attorney.

A major benefit in solving a problem that is so widely misunderstood.

Simonson has high hopes that the new city ordinances set to go into effect will be successful in dealing with Last Place on Earth.

Posted to the web by Gabrielle Ware
gware@kbjr.com