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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Synthetic Drug Update

I was down at the Capitol today testifying before a committee on a bill that would expand and improve Minnesota's synthetic drug law (click here for the Fox 21 story).   There has been a fair amount of frustration with the current law as we work through the evolution of synthetic drugs.

We also need to improve the accuracy of statistics from the local hospital emergency rooms for visits related to synthetic drug use.  The information I am hearing from local ER employees and what is being reported to the State are drastically different.  Folks in the ER's locally estimate up to half dozen visits a day due to complications with synthetic drug use and the State is reporting about 16 ER visits for all of last year.  Symptoms include, rapid heart rate, seizures, extreme illness, paranoia, depression and others.

Representative Bob Barrett (R-Shafer) was the author of the bill, but it is strongly supported by one of our own, Representative Kerry Gauthier.  Thanks to legislators for their support.

I also caught this blog on the Star Tribune (click here) that reports U.S. Senator Rand Paul is opposing federal bills addressing synthetic drugs.  In one statement Paul says “… I am concerned about the cost to taxpayers presented by further criminalization. It has been estimated that single marijuana arrest costs taxpayers an average of over $10,000. With federal Bureau of Prisons facilities already operating well above capacity, I am concerned that adding new substances to the list of federally banned drugs will further exacerbate overcrowding problems in our federal  prisons."

First off, I have never seen federal prosecution of simple marijuana possession.  As a matter of fact, the feds won't touch cases unless there is substantial sales -  and I mean substantial.  We don't have any full time federal drug enforcement presence in our area, so when they do come it is not for small amounts.  A simple possession charge of marijuana in Minnesota is similar to a speeding ticket- you're not going to jail for it.  Heck, we can't get people we've caught time and time again to get any jail time (click here for this recent press release on a drug dealer who doesn't quit) for meth-never mind marijuana! So to say a single marijuana arrest costs tax payers $10,000 is simply bogus and misleading.  Shame on you Senator Paul and thank you Senator Klobuchar for working to keep these terrible substances out of our communities. 

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