Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015 4:52 pm
By DOUG McDONOUGH email@example.com
State Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) is continuing his fight against synthetic drugs by filing SB 461, which will give law enforcement the ability to fight the substances from the angle of mislabeling.
Sens. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) jointly authored the bi-partisan legislation that was filed Thursday and is designed to solve a critical issue.
“It is unethical for a company to mislabel products in an effort to skirt the law and sell dangerous substances to our youth,” Perry said Thursday. “We banned these drugs across the state in 2011, it is time to close the loopholes and ban these substances once and for all.”
In December, the Plainview City Council voted unanimously for a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress and Texas Legislature to enact regulations to protect citizens from the dangerous effects of synthetic drugs. That resolution was one of the milestones set by Plainview’s Warriors Against Synthetic Pot (WASP), who have staged protests and educational programs in the community.
At that same meeting, local WASP organizer Crystal Davenport announced that all open local retailers of synthetic pot had pulled the substance from their shelves. Earlier in the year WASP was able to get two of the three known local retailers of synthetic pot to discontinue their sale of the drug. However, Just Smokes continued to carry the product despite weekly protests by WASP outside their building.
City Attorney Leslie Spear in December announced that local law enforcement, the City of Plainview, WASP and Plainview EMS/Fire had been working with the Texas Attorney General’s Office on a game plan to stop the sale of the product. The attorney general’s response was a letter to the smoke shop stating that selling synthetic pot was in violation of the state’s deceptive trade practices act because the shop has knowledge that the packages marked “potpourri” were capable of causing injury and death.
Each time the shop violated the act, the letter noted, owners could face fines from $20,000 to $250,000.
According to Perry’s announcement on Thursday, due to the complex chemical combinations, the targeted substances have been known to produce such side effects as hallucinations, severe agitation, elevated heart rate and/or blood pressure, chest pains, blackouts, tremors, seizures, cardiac infarction and death.
Some communities, including Lubbock and Abilene, have found success prosecuting offenders on the merits of mislabeling, and Perry’s bill takes the same attack.
Previously, Perry filed SB 199 which adds additional known chemicals to the Texas Controlled Substance Act, and includes a controlled substance analogue provision that will act as a “catch all” for drugs with substantially similar chemical composition or intended to produce substantially similar effects.