Whatever your feelings about the nation's lengthy "war on drugs," we think most of us can agree that the last thing society in general - and youth culture in particular - need is a new potentially deadly mind-altering substance.
That's why law enforcement officials, prosecutors and parents are pushing the state to outlaw a synthetic psychedelic known as 25I before it harms more people.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan recently called for the state Legislature to approve a bill that would make it illegal to possess or distribute 25I. The drug, informally known as "N-bomb," has been linked to 19 deaths nationwide, Ryan said, and has lately made its way into Massachusetts.
The mother of the East Bridgewater girl who died after taking the drug believed to be 25I for the first time told National Public Radio that her daughter underwent violent convulsions after ingesting the substance. She apparently learned about the drug through a social media post. The girl died days later. She was 15.
Because the drug is not legally classified as a controlled substance in Massachusetts, possession of 25I is not illegal under state law.
A bill filed last September never made it to the House floor for a full vote.
A story by The Associated Press noted that the drug, part of a series whose names contain numbers and the word NBOMe, is one of a host of synthetic drugs, some sold over the counter, that have defied officials' efforts to keep up with them by constantly changing their formulas. N-Bomb, though, is among the deadliest - even though experts say customers who buy it often believe it to be harmless, and kids as young as middle school age are taking it.
N-Bomb is often sold on blotter paper, in some cases bearing decorations like clowns or Pokemon characters, federal drug enforcement officials say.
Dealers buy batches of the drug over the Internet, then cut it with alcohol or some other liquid, drip it onto blotter.
Attleboro Police Chief Kyle Heagney supports legislation making the drug illegal. "It's unfortunate that the makers of these synthetic drugs always seem to be one step ahead," Heagney said. He called 25I a "very dangerous, untested" substance.
The situation recalls the threat posed by so-called "bath salts," amphetamine-like chemicals that were marketed to young people as a legal alternative to street drugs but were actually a potentially dangerous narcotic. Four years ago, former Attleboro state Rep. George Ross took the lead in passing a bill to make those substances illegal in the commonwealth.
We hope that the Legislature will take the threat of these designer drugs more seriously this time and finally get a jump on those who peddle these substances to young people.
It may not be a victory in this war, but it's a battle we can win.