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Rand Paul Blocks Federal Synthetic Drug Bans

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #722)
Politics & Advocacy

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is blocking three Senate bills that seek to prohibit new synthetic drugs. Rand spokesperson Moira Bagley confirmed to the Lexington Herald-Leader that he has had a "hold" on the bills for the last three months and that he has no intention of lifting it.

Rand Paul
Under Senate "unanimous consent" rules, any senator can place a hold on any bill. A hold doesn't kill a bill, but makes it more difficult for it to pass. A bill with a senatorial hold would require 60 votes to bring it up for consideration over the holding senator's objection.

Paul's main reason for blocking the bills, he told the Kentucky New Era, is that federal penalties for drug law violations are "disproportionate" and doesn't allow judges discretion in sentencing. "The main reason we are opposing this is someone could be kept in prison for 20 years," he told the Era.

Another reason Paul blocked the bills is that he believes "enforcement of most drug laws can and should be local and state issues" and that the bans could hinder efforts to be beneficial research on the substances, Bagley told the Herald-Leader. Bagley added that the federal government has the authority to issue "emergency" bans of the synthetic drugs without needing congressional action. (The DEA has in fact enacted separate temporary bans on synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants.)

The substances in question are synthetic cannabinoids ("fake weed") sold under names such as Spice and K2, as well as synthetic stimulants being sold as "bath salts." The substances have become increasingly widespread since being introduced here in recent years, but so have reports of adverse reactions and emergency room visits linked to them.

The bills in question are Senate Bill 409, introduced by inveterate drug warrior Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY); Senate Bill 605, introduced by inveterate drug warrior Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Senate Bill 389, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

A similar, but not identical, measure, House Bill 1254, passed the House in December. If any of the Senate bills manage to get passed, they would have to be reconciled with the House bill in conference committee.

But prospects for their passage are complicated at best, given the 60-vote firewall, and the fact that the Senate has other pressing business to attend to. That has the bills' sponsors frustrated. Last week, they took the unusual step of taking to the Senate floor to urge Paul to lift his hold.

Schumer said that while he understood the right of a senator to block a bill, Paul shouldn't be able to block a debate. "Let's see if he can win people over to his point of view," he said.

"Let's hear what the objections are, and then pass these bills," said Klobuchar.

But it doesn't look like Paul is budging.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Indigonzo (not verified)

In reply to by Rick James bitch! (not verified)

Spice and K2 are the smallest part of this. These bills cover 41 chemicals, from 2c-c to 2c-t-2 to MDAI to many many different cannabinoids. Some of these could be the cure for cancer, and none are researched. The 2c hallucinogens, especially, are relatively harmless, and the one kid who OD'ed on 2ce didn't know what he was doing, and did a huge line of this potent hallucinogen. This is not the fault of the chemical. This bill pushes forward the war on drugs and the only reason it exists is to get more people in prison.

This has nothing to do with marijuana. Barely even "synthetic marijuana". If these drugs are banned, more dangerous analogs will replace them in days. There are already so many new formulas, and more and more can be made as more as banned. The DEA will never keep up with production, and this will be a new chapter in the war on drugs, extended to the internet. If you "care about the children" or about anyone, just stop these federal bills that have more and more people going to prison for reasons that aren't even good reasons. MOST of these chemicals don't pose much of a threat, and the DEA has emergency scheduling powers anyway, and it has used them for 3 of these chemicals already. 

Sun, 02/26/2012 - 1:25am Permalink
knuckles412 (not verified)

Funny how Schumer asks if Paul can win people over to his point of view when the people consistently request to debate Marijuana policy in this country. Schumer doesnt seem too willing to hear the people then.

Mon, 02/20/2012 - 8:01pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

Maybe Schumer owns some stock in the " private prison industry ."  Being the drug war lunatic that he is , I wouldn`t  be surprised one bit . The same goes for the other insider trading , politics for profit , sell out the American public so I can stay in office scumbags in Congress. Congress has an approval rating that is lower than spoiled meat for a reason . Ron Paul 2012 .

Wed, 02/22/2012 - 1:36am Permalink
DaveMan1950 (not verified)

In reply to by kickback (not verified)

Or maybe he does not have religion so he has to have something to believe in! Congress is as congress does. Which is not representative of the people. Why is it that we elect... And when they get to Washington they change??? I'll tell you it is the bureaucrat's that never change and never get fired.?.? When will a president fire some of these Pin-Heads. When that happens, then things will change!!

Thu, 02/23/2012 - 12:58pm Permalink
DaveMan1950 (not verified)

Thank you Rand, You are right, it should be up to the states laws what is banned, and I believe that the real problem is the refinement. If coca leaf and Roca were available would the cartels be able to sell Crystal Cocain? Have you ever seen a fat Peruvian? Would we be in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan etc. if the smoking of Opium were legal here? No we would not. So don't demonize a natural product that people have been growing for thousands of years just to support pharmaceutical companies. It is the farmer that needs support.


Thu, 02/23/2012 - 12:44pm Permalink
Carmen Brown (not verified)

Rand Paul is my hero. I hope his dad Ron becomes our next president. 

Fri, 02/24/2012 - 6:28pm Permalink
greenfairy1034 (not verified)

there are already replacements for the chemicals listed in these bills.  And when they ban the replacements there will be replacements.  This war needs to stop. We should worry more about educating people about the possible dangers of some chemicals as opposed to banning them.  The reaction to banning them is the invention of new chemicals that people know even less about.  This is where the real harm comes into play.

its not a war on drugs but a war on personal freedom.

Thu, 04/26/2012 - 5:17am Permalink

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