LEGISLATION

U.S. Supreme Court ruling could make it harder to prosecute synthetic drug dealers in Indiana

(June 22, 2015) — On the same day one of the men who gave her son a deadly synthetic drug pleaded guilty Jeanine Motsay is gearing up for another fight to keep synthetic drug dealers like Jordan Adamowicz behind bars.

“There’s no taking back that the person that made the drug identified that they made it with powder of 25i nbome and mixing it with ever clear,” said Motsay.

That lethal combination took 16-year-old Sam Motsay’s life last year. Now the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Virginia synthetic drug dealer’s conviction after ruling prosecutors must prove he knew the chemical compound he dealt and knew it was illegal to distribute them.  Indiana Senator Jim Merritt says that decision empowers the dealers and could be a blow to Indiana laws aimed at keeping synthetic drugs off the streets.

“A retailer needs to know what they’re selling and needs to know what the world view is and we need to protect our citizens and the supreme court of the united states is not doing that now,” said Merritt, who has led the fight to keep synthetic drugs out of Hoosier’s hands, especially children.

“The United State’s Supreme Court ruling does not protect kids, it protects retailers and I’m for protecting kids.”

Jeanine Motsay has already loss her son and now the fight to keep other kids from doing synthetic drugs has gotten harder.

“This just gives those criminal activities more power to move forward and threaten our youth that really concerns me about what that means to the future generation,” said Motsay.

Merritt says the next step will be to put synthetic drugs in the same category as normal drugs so the penalties for distributing those substances are the same.

Sam’s Watch announces life-saving Substance Awareness Family Education event as teens head off for summer break

Parents and teens can learn how to ensure they have a safe summer at a substance-awareness panel May 20 in Johnson County. 

“Students will be looking for ways to kick back and relax on summer break, and we want to be sure they don’t think drugs are the way to do that,” said Jeanine Motsay, president of Sam’s Watch and the panel’s facilitator. “They need information to make wise decisions and this forum will make them and their parents aware of current drug dangers.”

The panel discussion will include Indiana Sen. Jim Merritt; Kristi Dunigan, a member of the Indiana Attorney General Prescription Drug Task Force; Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox; Michelle McMahon of Johnson County Communities that Care; Jamie Vickery, state coordinator of Indiana Students Against Destructive Decisions; Dr. Dick Huber, a substance abuse educator; Franklin Community Schools Athletic Director John Regas; and David Plew, a local parent advocate.  

The event is open to the public and will be held 7 - 8:15 p.m. at Franklin Community High School, 2600 Cumberland Road, Franklin. Attendees should enter through door 55 and go to the Large Instruction Room. Information will be available from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, Indiana SADD, Johnson Memorial Hospital, Tobacco Free Johnson County, Make Good Decisions, Overdose-Lifeline, Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County, Sam’s Watch, Tara Treatment Center and more.

Sam’s Watch is a nonprofit dedicated to teaching young people about the dangers of synthetic drugs. It was formed after Sam Motsay, a 16-year-old honors student-athlete, died on Mothers’ Day 2014 after he used a little-known synthetic drug, 25i-NBOMe. For free access to student-produced awareness videos and more information, go to samswatch.org.

Responding to the overdose crisis

Indiana is suffering from a severe overdose crisis that has taken hundreds of young people’s lives. Preventable tragedies will continue across the state if more is not done.

In response to this crisis, state Sen. Jim Merritt has introduced Aaron’s Law (SB 406). This critical legislation enables agencies to bring overdose prevention programs to communities and allows parents and other bystanders to intervene in overdose emergencies with naloxone, a lifesaving medicine that can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. SB 406 will leave the House this week and head back to the Senate.

Sen. Merritt assisted with amending this legislation with input from representatives of government agencies, non-profits, law enforcement, public health, medicine, addiction treatment, parents, families and community groups. After months of work, Aaron’s law, as amended by the House, is a strong bill which will save lives and encourage families to build needed partnerships with community stakeholders and health care professionals in the fight against addiction.

We applaud Sen. Merritt for hearing us, the parents of lives lost. We beg our fellow Hoosiers to to stand with us to save lives in Indiana

On behalf of the Parents of Aaron S., David M., Brett F., Sam M., Leland P., Jake M., Stuart S., Ryan B., Tommy F, Jarrod P., Manda S., Eric D., Lynsey P., Jake T., Robby A., Charles R., Dustin Y., Jennifer R., Marisa, Katie F., Mitch E., Loren F., Kevin D., and Chet T.

— Justin Phillips, Overdose Lifeline, Inc., Indianapolis

Ind. mom fights for tougher synthetic drug laws

INDIANAPOLIS - A central Indiana mother is closer to reaching her goal in the fight against synthetic drugs, but she still faces one major hurdle.

Jeanine Motsay is a mother on a mission. She has called on state lawmakers in the House to approve legislation that would list specific substances that have been declared synthetic drugs. 

Motsay’s 16-year-old son Sam was found dead after using a synthetic drug known as N-bomb.

PREVIOUS | Teen found dead in Johnson County home  | What is 'N-bomb'? Drug stirs concern after Indiana death

The death of the student athlete last May prompted his family to push for legislation that would make it tougher to sell synthetic drugs in Indiana.

Motsay expects lawmakers in the House to help make it a law.

"I think this is an easy shot. I think it is easy to say let’s do it, because it’s that simple. It protects our young people, there’s no question about it,” Motsay said.

“We will continue because there will always be someone out there trying to evade the law. We need flexibility in the law and the pharmacy board can offer us that along with these transparent rules where everybody knows what is against the law,” said Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis.

The bill sponsored by Merritt, Senate Bill 93 , passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday, so it is now up to the House to vote on his plan.

Gov. Mike Pence declared Thursday as Participation Recognition Day to encourage parents, teens and schools to talk about drug awareness in honor of Sam Motsay.

Mom works to toughen penalties for synthetic drug dealers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – It’s been almost a year since a Greenwood mother lost her son after officials say he took a new and dangerous synthetic drug, known as 25i-NBOMe.

16-year-old Sam Motsay was an athlete and an honor student, with big dreams and a bright future. He died on Mother’s Day 2014 after taking NBOMe.

At the time of Sam’s death, even police here weren’t familiar with synthetic drugs. His family started a non-profit called Sam’s Watch, in the months after his death.

Sam’s family is now working to educate both parents and students about the dangers of synthetic drugs. Jeanine Motsay, Sam’s mother, says she’s also now working with state lawmakers to get these drugs out of our community.

Motsay says she’s working with Senator Jim Merritt to help get Senate Bill 278 passed. The bill would make the penalties for selling a synthetic drug the same as the penalties would be for whatever drug it mimics, like LSD.

“Sam was your typical kid, but for us, he was our son. We miss him every day,” said Motsay. “We’re hoping his death can be life giving to someone else.”

Motsay says Sam and his friends didn’t know what they were getting, and the information shared between peers wasn’t accurate.

“I want parents to know what I would have wanted to know before this happened to Sam. I want students to know because Sam was a smart kid and I think with the right information, he could have made a better decision.”

Motsay says tougher penalties for those who deal such drugs are imperative.

“It’s important to me that we cover all the bases, and we make the penalties stiffer, so we can dissuade those dealers and distributors from making that drug and targeting our teens.”

Motsay spoke at numerous schools last week as a part of the National Drug Facts Week, reaching thousands of Hoosier students to share her message.

She says they’ve also prepared a PSA they’re going to release to media outlets and schools.

Her efforts come as an appeals court just declared the state’s ban on synthetic drugs unconstitutional, the judge saying the law is too vague for citizens to understand. The state has 30 days to appeal.

“If you look at what happened to my son, I don’t think there’s anything vague about it. They were sold something that was to resemble LSD or acid, it was a research chemical, a synthetic drug called 25i NBOMe, and it actually resulted in my son’s death. I don’t think there’s anything vague about that,” said Motsay.

“It helps to know we may be saving someone else,” said Motsay.

For more information on the non-profit Sam’s Watch, and also for more information on synthetic drugs click here

Preventing Heartbreak

Her hope is that if more teenagers hear about Sam they’ll hesitate if someone suggests they take a drug.

In that moment, she wants them to remember who Sam was — a quiet Center Grove High School sophomore who loved basketball and was taking honors classes to prepare for college.

He also was a teenager who made a fatal mistake in May when he took the synthetic drug 251 NBOMe, known as N-Bomb.

If more teenagers knew that story, if they knew that N-Bomb and other synthetic drugs have chemicals that could kill them, they might make a different choice, Motsay said.

“It’s part of why I keep going every day, is to know there’s the opportunity to save somebody else like Sam,” she said.

Motsay also has been meeting with State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, who’s sponsoring a bill in this year’s legislative session that he hopes will increase the penalty for anyone who is caught with or is dealing a synthetic drug. If the bill becomes law, anyone caught with synthetic drugs could face the same penalties as someone caught with drugs already defined as illegal. For example, someone possessing a synthetic hallucinogen would face the same penalty as someone caught with LSD, Merritt said.

“We’re saying to those that might want to use these drugs or deal these drugs that you’re going to be prosecuted the same way as if you were using the actual drug it imitates or looks like,” Merritt said.

Merritt reached out to Motsay shortly after Sam’s death, and the pair started speaking to parents and high school and college students about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

One of those presentations included a forum in Johnson County in August after school was back in session. Little was known about N-Bomb when Sam died; and Motsay, Merritt and local police departments wanted students and parents to know how dangerous synthetic drugs could be.

Shortly after, Motsay rented office space in Center Grove, near State Road 135 and Smith Valley Road. She has a full-time job working for a health care organization and works from home; but after Sam’s death, it was difficult spending a lot of time at the house.

The office gave Motsay a place to clear her head, and it quickly evolved into the headquarters for Sam’s Watch, a group dedicated to spreading the word about the dangers of synthetic drugs.

Motsay does a few hours of work for the nonprofit at the end of each day. Right now, her focus is on signing Indiana schools up for National Drug Facts Week at the end of January. The goal of the week is to educate teens about drugs. So far, 35 schools have pledged to participate, she said.

To encourage schools to sign up, Sam’s Watch is sponsoring drawings and contests for prizes, including $1,000, which can be used to fund student activities, and three iPad minis. The cash and iPads were donated by local businesses and Motsay’s friends and family.

Working with Sam’s Watch is cathartic, Motsay said, but she’s learning how to deal with the pain of losing a child. She knew the holidays last month would be difficult, but the hurt was worse than she expected.

“Sometimes you don’t realize how low you can really feel,” she said.

Motsay knows that she’ll have to keep learning how to cope with that pain. So she doesn’t have long-term goals for Sam’s Watch yet. She said those goals will evolve as she continues to heal.

“You end up in a place you never expected,” she said. “So it’s hard to think about the future.”