State lawmakers commended Governor Mitch Daniels for signing a bill into law that strengthens the state’s ban on dangerous synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine. HEA 1196, authored by State Rep. Milo Smith (R-Columbus) and sponsored by State Sens. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) and Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), also holds retailers that do not comply with the crackdown accountable for their illegal actions.
“After receiving a phone call from a constituent asking why we don’t make it illegal for synthetic drugs to be sold, I met with local police and prosecutors,” Smith said. “After meeting with them, I knew the General Assembly needed to address this issue and ensure that these dangerous substances remained off shelves and not available for purchase. It was very important to pass this bill considering the urgency of the problem.”
With the bill’s enactment on March 15, more than 60 chemical compounds found in synthetic drugs like “Spice” and “bath salts” were immediately added to the state’s list of illegal substances.
“Many retailers understand the dangers of these drugs and refuse to sell the products,” said Alting, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Policy. “Others place profits over the well-being of young, vulnerable kids. Now those who refuse to play by the rules will suffer the consequences. Our state will be a safer place and fewer children will be sent to emergency rooms when these harmful drugs are removed from store shelves.”
In an effort to prevent illicit drug manufacturers from slightly changing ingredients and skirting laws in the future, the law also bans compounds chemically derived from existing illegal drugs.
“Final provisions in the new law are the result of months of hard work by state legislators and law enforcement officers,” Merritt said. “This successful collaboration will further halt the production and selling of dangerous synthetic drugs that can be blamed for at least 20 deaths. It’s time to act so that this number doesn’t increase.”
Retailers that continue to sell synthetic marijuana and other banned synthetic drugs will be stripped of their retail merchant certificate of business, shutting them down for one year. Affiliates of the business – including owners, officers, partners, directors or managers – will be banned from obtaining any other retail merchant certificates for one year. Employees caught distributing these substances without the knowledge of their employer would be subject to prosecution as well.