US House Set to Pass Bad Drug Bills [FEATURE]

Going in the face of an ever-increasing clamor to reform decades of failed drug policies, the US House of Representatives is poised to pass two bills that promise more of the same. The House is set to vote any day now -- the vote was originally set until Wednesday night, but was pushed back -- on HR 1254, the Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, which would criminalize not only synthetic stimulants ("bath salts"), but also synthetic cannabinoids ("fake pot") marketed under names such as "K2" and "Spice."

"This is almost certain to pass," said Grant Smith, federal affairs coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which has been lobbying to try to stop it. "We're doing our best to try to block it, but it's unlikely we will succeed," he said.

The bill foresees prison sentences of up to 20 years for the distribution of small quantities of synthetic drugs. But despite an intense debate in the House Judiciary Committee last month over the bill's implications, it is moving ahead.

At least 40 states have passed bans on the new synthetic drugs, and the DEA has placed both fake weed and bath salts under emergency bans. The bill would make both sets of substances Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, which would make them difficult to research. Scientists have warned Congress that placing synthetic drugs under Schedule I will have a chilling effect on research intended to explore treatments for a range of diseases and disorders.

The bath salts drugs -- primarily methcathinones like mephedrone derived from the khat plant -- have been associated with spectacular bad reactions, including increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions, and some reports of violent behavior. Fake pot has been associated with less dangerous bad reactions, including confusion, nausea and panic attacks.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers warned in May that it had seen a nine-fold increase in bath salts-related calls over the previous year, and that was with less than half the year gone. Last year, centers reported 302 calls; as of May of this year, they had received more than 2,200 calls.

That would clearly seem to suggest that use of bath salts is on the rise, but what it means beyond that is not so clear. Without a handle on actual use levels, it is difficult to determine how frequent such adverse reactions are, or how they compare to reported adverse events with other drugs.

Still, Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, said the substances are the worst he has seen in 20 years at the poison center. "These products create a very severe paranoia that we believe could cause users to harm themselves or others," he said.

Horrible drugs or not, evidence from Britain suggests that some people like them quite a bit. According to an August report in the Guardian, which cited recently released scientific research, "Mephedrone is more popular among UK clubbers than ecstasy despite being banned."

"The legal status wasn't considered important," said Fiona Measham, a criminology lecturer who led the research. "Among the people we spoke to, I was surprised how much they liked it, how much they enjoyed it. They wanted to take more and were prepared to seek it out and buy it on the illegal market."

But Congress was on a different wavelength. In a statement typical of congressional discourse on the issue, in a September hearing, Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA), the sponsor of HB 1254, first listed a number of anecdotal scare stories, then proceeded to warn his colleagues that the drugs were not innocent. "These substances are marketed with innocent sounding names," he said, "but these labels are total misnomers designed to facilitate their legal sale. These drugs have no legitimate medicinal or industrial purposes."

"We are in a new era of drugs," said Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) at the same time, as she prepared to deal with them with the same approach Congress has taken with other drugs -- by banning them.

The second bill, HR 313, the Drug Trafficker Safe Harbor Elimination Act of 2011, introduced by veteran drug warrior Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) would make it a criminal offense to plan to engage in an activity in another country if that activity would violate US drug laws if committed in the US -- even if that activity is legal in the country where it takes place.

While Smith and other bill supporters say the legislation is aimed at drug traffickers who conspire in the US, opponents point out that it could just as easily be applied to someone who makes plans to attend and partake at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, work at a safe injection site in Vancouver or any of the other 64 cities that have them, or work in a medical marijuana program in Israel. All of those activities are illegal under federal drug laws and thus subject to the purview of the bill.

"Since the war on drugs was declared 40 years ago, the US has spent more than one trillion dollars and arrested tens of millions of Americans for drug law violations, yet drugs are readily available in every community and the problems associated with them continue to mount," said Bill Piper, DPA director of national affairs. "When you're in a hole, you shouldn't just keep digging," he added.

"Facing massive budget deficits, policymakers from both parties should be searching for alternatives to prison for nonviolent drug law offenders, because locking them up is only making us poorer, not safer," said Piper. "The US can't incarcerate its way out of its drug problems and should stop trying. The only way out of the drug war mess is to start treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue."

"By rushing to criminalize synthetic drugs, Congress is condemning more Americans to years in prison and ignoring warnings from the scientific community that this bill will hurt medical research," said Smith. "Outright criminalization compromises both public health and safety by shifting demand for synthetic drugs into the criminal market. It would be more effective for Congress to pursue comprehensive drug education and create a regulatory framework to reduce youth access to synthetic drugs. This approach is working for tobacco, which has contributed to more deaths than alcohol and illicit drugs combined."

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Hold Legal drugs to same danger criteria as Illegal drugs.

I believe that Legal drugs should have the same danger criteria that Illegal drugs do.  Something like

GHB that was banned due to 7 deaths (all in conjunction with alcohol), then you look at something like

Viox, which was taken off the market because it killed 60,000 people and was responsible for another 120,000 heart attacks and strokes. Yet it was determined that Viox had helped more people than it harmed so they allowed it back on the market.  Meanwhile, marijuana, a plant, has killed ZERO people and remains schedule one.  Elly Lilly denied claims that Prozac caused suicidal tendencies, but in their patent on the New and Improved Prozac, it says the new Prozac does not cause suicidal tendencies like it's predecessor. So it is not as if they don't know.  In this light it makes the Illegal drugs look WAAAAAAY safer by comparison.

I believe that Legal drugs

I believe that Legal drugs should have the same danger criteria that Illegal drugs do.  Something like

GHB that was banned due to 7 deaths (all in conjunction with alcohol), then you look at something like

Viox, which was taken off the market because it killed 60,000 people and was responsible for another 120,000 heart attacks and strokes. Yet it was determined that Viox had helped more people than it harmed so they allowed it back on the market.  Meanwhile, marijuana, a plant, has killed ZERO people and remains schedule one.  Elly Lilly denied claims that Prozac caused suicidal tendencies, but in their patent on the New and Improved Prozac, it says the new Prozac does not cause suicidal tendencies like it's predecessor. So it is not as if they don't know.  In this light it makes the Illegal drugs look WAAAAAAY safer by comparison.

Legal drugs should have the same danger criteria as Illegal drug

I believe that Legal drugs should have the same danger criteria that Illegal drugs do.  Something like

GHB that was banned due to 7 deaths (all in conjunction with alcohol), then you look at something like

Viox, which was taken off the market because it killed 60,000 people and was responsible for another 120,000 heart attacks and strokes. Yet it was determined that Viox had helped more people than it harmed so they allowed it back on the market.  Meanwhile, marijuana, a plant, has killed ZERO people and remains schedule one.  Elly Lilly denied claims that Prozac caused suicidal tendencies, but in their patent on the New and Improved Prozac, it says the new Prozac does not cause suicidal tendencies like it's predecessor. So it is not as if they don't know.  In this light it makes the Illegal drugs look WAAAAAAY safer by comparison.

You know....

It really doesn't make any sense to do this. Aside from the drug war being a complete and utter failure on its own merits; how does this make things any better? Simple answer: it doesn't.

We need more laws, more I say, more, more.

More laws prohibiting the criminally insane from government positions. How about a law enacting the death penalty for public officials lying to the public, or life without parole for authoring unconstitutional laws, removal from office and loss of pension for even mentioning one. How about a law to apply all laws equally, not just to the peasants. How about a law making police brutality illegal?

A bias against altered

A bias against altered states....Never. LOL. Come on guys. Don't you know that these are religious and aristocratic people here. The dominate religions/ideologies seem to be pretty against things like drugs (psychotropic substances like alcohol). These are the "cultural" leaders of our societies. I do not find these people to be looking for maximum understanding. Keeping people from exploring consciousness does not seem to help them with their goals. Maybe if we let them administer them to us and propagandize us while we are loaded, they might be down.

Um...so ...

Will this "great new law" include MARINOL???  Last I've heard MARINOL is a synthetic cannabinoid.

Our mistake was in telling them that they've lost the "war on drugs". Looking at all the other declared wars on things (as blatted out by some simpleton that we are told we elected)... telling them that they're losing only makes them double their efforts. It's a football mentality. If the other team is winning then you just have to hit harder. Perhaps we should try telling them that they've won, maybe they will go home happy, get drunk, pass out and choke on their own vomit!   Because as we all know..."Booze is good-Drugs are bad." It's a sick sad world.

Stupidity

When will someone with BALLS stand up against this BULLSHIT?

When......

When it does not cost a bizillion dollars to run and hold a major public office - in other words NEVER !!

Origins of Drug Prohibition

Hammer this home:

Drug Prohibition is a product of conservative religious dogma, not medical science.

And at least 10% of US Citizens don't belong to that religion.

So any arrest for using mind-altering subjects responsibly is RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION !

 

 

Not only should Marinol be

Not only should Marinol be illegal under this new law. Try to wrap your mind around the fact that the UK and US governments are pushing though a new cannabinoid drug called Sativex. Which is a natural whole plant marijuana extract. Try and figure out how that is different than unprocessed marijuana in the drug schedule. Marijuana Schedule 1 no use at all. Sativex(ground up juiced marijuana) Schedule 2 great stuff. Only difference I see is big-pharma making the money.

Too many agencies dipping

Too many agencies dipping their grubby hands into the government funded cookie jar to make these type of policies change, no matter how increasingly apparent it becomes to everyone that this type of regulation is futile, nor how moronic they appear when they pose as white knights off to slay the evil drug dragon with their little fine print and lawyer words written on rolled up scrolls. Buffoons trying to champion a cause they know next to nothing about, except for what they saw on TV ( alot of Americans seem to "know" what they're talking about anymore by parroting what someone told them on TV ). and repeating the same short sighted tactics that have failed repeatedly with every new administration for now over 50 years. If this truly were a Drug "War" we'd have lost long ago and be under the boot of some imaginary Narco-Dictator-Terrorist because of the fundamental flaws with our strategy and poor understanding of the nature of our "enemy."

Its bullshit through and through, and if you make money on drugs, chances are you're not a dealer.

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