Lawmakers plan fight against synthetic drugs

A legislative strategy to tackle synthetic drug problems in the state could begin to take shape this week.

Members of the House Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs have been gathering testimony around the state in preparation for a report to the Legislature early next year.

DFL Rep. Erik Simonson of Duluth, the committee chair, said part of the plan will call for tougher laws to prevent the sale of synthetic drugs. He said the strategy will also rely heavily on education about the drugs' dangers.

"Unfortunately, the message is out there still fairly common in several communities that these things are harmless," Simonson said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Simonson's panel will meet jointly Wednesday with House committees that deal with public safety and human services.

Synthetic drugs have been difficult to outlaw, because sellers often change the chemical composition of the drugs, said DFL Rep. Michael Paymar, chair of the House Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee.

"I don't know that just trying to put copycat kind of legislation together is going to work, nor will it be constitutional," he said. "I am hoping that the select committee will focus more on how do we educate especially young people on the dangers of synthetic drugs, because they are quite dangerous."

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