Arizona Senate passes synthetic drugs bill

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Senate approved new legislation Thursday that will likely put a big dent in the synthetic drug business.

The bill, which was approved by a 28 to 0 vote, will ban the specific chemical “backbone” that is used to make numerous designer drugs like bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

The bill includes an emergency clause, which means it will be effective as soon as it is signed by Gov. Jan Brewer.

“I commend Representative Eddie Farnsworth for sponsoring this successful effort to provide law enforcement with an effective tool to rid our communities of these dangerous drugs,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Synthetic drugs contain chemical compounds that produce an effect similar to marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

Previous efforts to outlaw the drugs based on their chemistry have fallen short because manufacturers were able to modify the drugs to circumvent the law.

The new bill approved by the Arizona Senate will likely be much more effective because it bans the fundamental chemical structure that many of the drugs are based on.

Once passed, the new law will make it a Class 4 felony to be in possession or use synthetic drugs.

Selling, importing, or transferring the drugs will also be a felony.

“Retailers should consider themselves officially on notice that they will be subject to arrest and prosecution if they continue selling these products after the Governor signs the legislation into law,” said Montgomery.