We applaud the staunch and unrelenting support of Sen. Charles Schumer of NY for getting the amendment against Synthetic Marijuana through the US Senate late today.
Although Amendment S2146 has now passed the Senate, it must now go back to the House of Representatives, then, of course, to the President for a signature–so this amendment has a long way to go before it is law.
We are not entirely happy with the amendment as it stands, but we understand that many compromises were forced by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Sen. Rand Paul.
The amendment, as it stands now, reduces the mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison to one year. In addition, 15 chemicals that relate to synthetic cocaine (bath salts) which were included in HR1254, were not included in this amendment.
The Congress will likely demand a higher minimum sentence and re-inclusion of those chemical compounds before the amendment is approved.
The next few weeks should be interesting. We are hoping that, at the end of this process, these dangerous drugs will be outlawed and a lot fewer deaths and injuries will occur in our communities.
Our ultimate goal is for legislation that does not list specific chemicals, but bans all synthetic drugs designed to mimic controlled substances. We look forward to the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our lawmakers to bring such a bill up for a vote in the next year.
U.S. Senate passes Federal Ban on Sale of Synthetic pot
NY’s Schumer led charge against dangerous ‘herbal incense’
BY ALISON GENDAR AND HEIDI EVANS / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sen. Charles Schumer got the ban passed despite opposition from Kentucky Republican Rand Paul.
The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana nationwide.
The U.S. Senate passed a ban on the sale of potentially deadly synthetic pot after the rogue lawmaker who held it up for months was outfoxed by New York’s Chuck Schumer.
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul, a libertarian, used a filibuster to stymie a federal
crackdown on the drug known as “potpourri or “herbal incense” — the subject of a Daily News investigation into its dangers.
Fearing that more young people could be harmed while Paul dug in his heels, Schumer made an end-run around Paul and tacked the ban onto a larger Food and Drug Administration bill.
The big bill passed 96-1 on Thursday — and even Paul didn’t vote against it.
“Let this be a warning to those who make a profit manufacturing and selling killer chemical components to our teens and children: the jig is up,” Schumer said after the vote.
“This bill closes loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensures that you cannot simply cross state lines to find these deadly synthetic drugs.”
A similar ban on synthetic pot passed the House by a vote of 317-98 last December. Schumer said he expects to have the ban on President Obama’s desk by July 4 to be signed into law.
“By passing this amendment today we finally get these poisonous drugs off our shelves and keep our nation’s youth out of emergency rooms,” Schumer said.
The ban comes after a series of Daily News stories exposed how the so-called fake pot was widely available in corner stores and online under such names as “K2”, “Spice,” “Killer Buzz,” and “Dead Man Walking.”
Emergency room doctors and law enforcement authorities in New York and across the country linked it to panic attacks, elevated blood pressure and hallucinations, and it was blamed in several deaths.
Deirdre Canaday — an upstate New York mom whose 26-year-old son, Aaron, never woke up after smoking a packet of “Mr. Nice Guy” last September — was relieved by the Senate action.
“It’s about time,” Canaday told the Daily News. “It won’t bring back my son but I am hoping it will be a deterrent [to] destroying other young people and their families’ lives.”
Authorities said synthetic pot was a growing public health crisis.
Calls to poison control centers around the country about the substance went from 13 in 2009 to more than 6,900 last year.
New York emergency rooms reported 57 potpourri-related cases in a year.
The state Health Department banned the sale of synthetic marijuana in March. Legislation to criminalize the sale of it in New York was passed by the Assembly and Senate but had not yet been signed into law.
The federal ban now means it’s illegal to sell anywhere in the country, regardless of local laws.
The penalty for breaking the ban is up to 20 years in prison for first-time offenders and up to 30 years for repeat sellers.
Synthetic marijuana has become a multimillion-dollar business in recent years, sold over the internet in bulk and in corner stores for a youth-friendly $5 a pop.
“They are easy to buy as a lollipop or carton of milk but even more dangerous than the common illegal drug on which they are based,” Schumer said.
Sources said Paul, a rookie senator and son of presidential candidate Ron Paul, only realized Thursday morning that he had been outmaneuvered and “would get rolled” when the FDA bill came up for a vote.
“He was ‘Schumed,’ which is always unpleasant. More so because some of our team joined the roll,” one GOP staffer said of Paul, who had blocked a vote on the original bill because he though the penalties were too stiff.
Schumer called the passage “a big victory [that\] shows you can still get some important things done in Washington despite the political obstacles.”
Karen Dobner, an Illinois mom who has started a foundation to bring attention to the dangers of synthetic pot, said she hopes Schumer’s bill will save lives.
“We couldn’t be happier to finally to see federal legislation,” said Dobner, whose son Max, 19, died in June after he smoked “iAroma” and drove his car at 100 mph into a neighbor’s house.
“Until these sellers lose a loved one of their own, all they care about is the money they make” she said.