Warner introduces bill to combat synthetic drugs

mark warnerU.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to introduce bipartisan legislation to help fight synthetic drugs. TheSynthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act would make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of “analogue” drugs, which are synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs, by making it easier to prove that these drugs are intended for human consumption. Current law makes it difficult to prosecute new synthetic drugs because they are often labeled “not intended for human consumption” despite their well-known use as recreational drugs with dangerous side effects.

 “We must provide law enforcement with the flexibility that’s needed to fight the rise of new and dangerous synthetic drugs, which are clearly distributed for no purpose other than human consumption,” Warner said.“This bipartisan bill takes quick steps to ensure that law enforcement has the tools needed to keep these ever-changing substances off the market, saving a countless number of lives in the process.”

The SALTS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow for consideration of a number of factors when determining whether a controlled substance analogue was intended for human consumption, including the marketing, advertising, and labeling of a substance, and its known use. The bill also provides that evidence that a substance was not marketed, advertised, or labeled for human consumption, by itself, is not sufficient to establish that the substance was not intended for human consumption.

Synthetic drugs are a significant problem in Virginia and across the country, including drugs closely related to fentanyl, which is a Schedule II prescription drug that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine that has been implicated in the rising number of overdose deaths.  

The bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National District Attorneys Association.

Sen. Warner has been a strong supporter in the fight against legal and illicit drugs, voting last year in support of a major overhaul in the fight against opioid addition that became law.