Lawmakers hear compelling testimony involving synthetic drugs

By KBJR News 1

October 9, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 7:57 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The battle on synthetic drugs returned to St. Paul on Wednesday.

Three house committees joined forces to tackle what many say is a growing problem plaguing the entire state.

Lawmakers didn't just hear from doctors and drug counselors, but also from those who've experienced the devastating effects of synthetic drugs.

Much of the testimony focused on the issue surrounding Twin Cities area, but Duluth wasn't absent from the discussion.

37-year-old Charles Vanke is currently seeking treatment at the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge for the use of synthetic drugs.

He told lawmakers he would make daily stops at the Last Place on Earth to wait in long lines to buy synthetic marijuana.

"I didn't think it was doing anything to me. Later on though, I did notice some effects, my friends noticed effects. It would cause you paranoia and shortness of breath. My friend went to the hospital on three or four different occasions with complete panic attacks. It's just a bad drug," Vanke testified.

The testimony heard Wednesday along with past testimony collected across the state will be used by the House Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs, led by Duluth Representative Erik Simonson, to recommend new legislation during the 2014 session.

Representative Simonson says the strategy will rely heavily on education about the dangers of synthetics, focusing on youth and teenagers.

Wednesday's discussion also included controlled substances and prescription drugs.

Kevin Jacobsen
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