Councilwoman Gibson, synthetic drug group to collect letters ahead of legislative session

By Adam D. Young

A-J MEDIA LOCAL NEWS EDITOR

Lubbock’s Warriors Against Synthetic Pot advocacy group and Councilwoman Karen Gibson are launching an anti-drug effort ahead of the upcoming Texas legislative session.

Gibson and members of the group hosted a news conference Tuesday afternoon in City Hall asking people to help support proposed measures during the 84th Texas 
Legislative Session by sharing personal stories of how their friends or loved ones have been impacted by synthetic drugs.

The organization will give the letters to state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, to take to the legislative session.

“We’re trying to get the community’s support,” said Jeannine Kelley, co-founder of the Lubbock-based anti-synthetic drug group. “But this is an entire state issue and we need to get our state leaders on board.”

Kelley praised city and state leaders for past efforts to limit the availability of synthetic drugs.

Despite state and city laws banning certain chemicals, she said, others with similar effects remain on some store shelves.

“This drug is death,” she said. “It offers you death in a package.”

Kelley said she’s hopeful the letter-writing campaign will help persuade state leaders to take action.

The anecdotes, she said, will remain anonymous and can be sent to her organization via mail:

WASP

P.O. Box 65717

Lubbock, TX 79464-5717

“We just need you to write it on a piece of paper,” she said. “Write it on toilet paper — I don’t care how we get it.”

Moving forward on drug bans

Earlier this month, Perry announced he had pre-filed SB 199 to prohibit the sale and use of synthetic drugs in the state ahead of the legislative session beginning next month.

Perry said the Legislature has passed similar bans in previous sessions, but manufacturers have repeatedly changed the chemical makeup of their drugs to skirt the law.

“In shops across the state, dangerous synthetic drugs are being sold to our youth, over the counter without repercussions,” Perry said in the statement. “These drugs are unregulated and more dangerous than the illegal counterparts they seek to imitate.”

Due to the complex chemical combinations, these substances have been known to produce side effects including hallucination, severe agitation, elevated heart rate and/or blood pressure, chest pains, blackouts, tremors, seizures, cardiac infarction, and in some cases death, according to Perry’s statement.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Gibson praised Perry’s efforts and said his proposal was a good start.

More needs to be done on a state level — including increasing penalties and expanding current laws — to help remove synthetic drugs on a local level, she said.

Lubbock’s City Council last year passed an ordinance banning the sale of certain synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as synthetic marijuana, in stores in the city limits.

City leaders updated that ordinance earlier this year, expanding the list of banned substances.

Perry’s SB 199 would add additional known chemicals to the Texas Controlled Substance Act and include a controlled substance analog provision that will act as a “catch-all” for drugs with substantially similar chemical composition or intended to produce substantially similar effects.

“There are 53 merchants in Lubbock County alone that are known to have sold these substances,” Perry added. “I look forward to working with local law enforcement to ensure this commonsense legislation becomes law and these dangerous substances stay off of our streets and out of our schools.”

adam.young@lubbockonline.com

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