The House of Representatives passed the bipartisan “Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2015” (H.R. 3537) on Sept. 26 sponsored by Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) through a vote of 258 – 101.
Following the bill’s passage, Congressman Dent stated, “I have been working for several years to bring attention to the very serious threat that synthetic drugs pose to the health and safety of communities in Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole, which is why I am ecstatic to see H.R. 3537 voted out of the House with bipartisan support. Many of these drugs possess similar or even more harmful effects than other illegal drugs, like heroin or PCP, but they can be deceptively distributed through legal channels on the basis that their specific chemical compounds are not expressly prohibited. This bill will expand the chemical compounds listed under the Controlled Substances Act to get the ‘worst of the worst’ offenders off the streets and will grant the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency greater authorities to stop these synthetic drugs from being sold, distributed, and, abused.”
Congressman Himes added, “I am proud to have worked with my friend, Charlie Dent, to pass this strong, bipartisan legislation. Communities across the nation are being torn apart by the opioid epidemic. These synthetic drugs, which include variations of the extremely dangerous opioid fentanyl, are exacerbating an already out of control problem. This bill bans some of the worst synthetic drugs, which are nothing more than unregulated poison masquerading as a harmless high and marketed toward young people.”
The products targeted by this bill are primarily labeled as synthetic marijuana, bath salts, or synthetic opioids which are sold under labels like “K2” or “Spice” that allow them to be marketed to unsuspecting young people. H.R. 3537 strengthens existing federal law by adding 22 specific synthetic substances that are prevalent in these drugs to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). These 22 compounds have been identified as especially dangerous by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and they were selected after a lengthy in-depth review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and outside researchers determined that they were highly abusive, do not hold any therapeutic value, and are not accepted for any medicinal purposes or treatments within the United States.
“Devious modifications to the chemical formulas of these drugs have allowed their overseas manufacturers to continue to push them onto victims under the false impression that they are safe, despite often being even more potent than the drugs they are designed to mimic. The use and abuse of synthetic drugs is having a devastating impact on families across the country,” Dent added. “My district was rocked earlier this month by the news of a gruesome murder in Bethlehem involving a man who had ingested a synthetic drug known as flakka. Tonight’s bipartisan passage of my bill will help prevent future tragedies from devastating our communities and properly classify these substances as the dangerous and illegal products that they really are.”
H.R. 3537 is endorsed by a broad coalition of organizations including: American Medical Association (AMA); American Hospital Association (AHA); American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP); National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP); National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS); and the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI (SFSAFBI).