Indiana News

VIDEO: Ban On Spice and Other Synthetic Drugs Gets Stronger

Daniels signs expanded drug ban bill into law; takes effect immediately


Senator Jim Merritt, Rep. Milo Smith, and Sen. Ron Alting talk about the expanded synthetic drug ban ( video: Ray Steele)

Indiana's ban on synthetic drugs is stronger, after Governor Daniels signed into law a bill cracking down on drugs that have usually been available in convenience stores.


The Legislature passed a ban on the drugs known as Spice, K2, bath salts and other names in 2011, but makers of the drugs changed their chemical formulas to get around the law. "The issue is that when you're out of session, when the legislature is gone and on July 2nd, they change the compounds in these drugs, they can put them back on the shelves," says State Senator Jim Merritt (R - Indianapolis) one of the sponsors of this year's bill.

After several teens around Indiana were sickened by synthetic drugs despite last year's ban, the author of the bill, Representative Milo Smith (R-Columbus), added numerous drug compounds. "I think we added, like, 61 compounds," said another sponsor, Senator Ron Alting (R-Lafayette). "Most states, by the way, just to show you the difference when I talk about experience, most states are testifying that there are three to five major compounds."

The Legislature also added provisions to keep the drugs out of stores even if the producers try to use a formula that isn't part of the law. It is now illegal to make a drug compound that is derived from existing illegal drugs, and if any suspected sythetic drugs are found in stores, law enforcement will have the power to seize them immediately. "(Police will then) alert the Board of Pharmacy," says Merritt "The Board of Pharmacy will go into emergency session, and put an emergency rule making together and rule until the Legislature can get back into session."

Stores that sell synthetic drugs could lose their retail merchant certificate of business, effectively shutting them down for at least one year. "Retail Indiana has agreed to these terms," Merritt says. "They believe that they won't be bitten. The good actors are not selling this."

Mark Lawrance is one parent who is thrilled to see the expanded ban on synthetic drugs, though it is too late to bring total comfort to his family. Lawrance, a senior vice president with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, had heard of Spice before, but never gave it much thought until last Spring. "Our son Will, very talented artist, he took some of the bath salts in late May, early June (of 2011). Very quickly, we realized this is way different than anything else. Ultimately, he died because of it."

Lawrence says the new law can't bring his son back, but he is still happy that it's on the books. "If nothing else, the awareness of this poison, and if parents pay attention to what their kids are doing. This stuff is insidious. The addiction profile is as bad as any drug out there."


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