Other Views: Going to war against syntheticsThe state has ramped up its war on synthetic drugs. It’s a new front in the drug war that’s getting considerable attention.
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
The state has ramped up its war on synthetic drugs. It’s a new front in the drug war that’s getting considerable attention.
In October, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced plans for legislation making synthetic drugs illegal if the substances contain a “core chemical” common to different types of synthetic marijuana or hallucinogens.
The North Dakota Board of Pharmacy will meet late this month to consider the proposal.
Last week, Stenehjem’s office issued a cease-and-desist order against Big Willies ATP in Mandan. Stenehjem said the smoke shop was violating the state’s Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act by selling items known to be used as alternatives to illegal drugs. He issued a similar order against two Minot Hemp Horizonz locations to stop the sales.
The action comes on the heels of the sentencing of the owners of Big Willies for conspiring to sell synthetic cannabinoids, substances that mimic the effects of marijuana. The sentences of Ryan Zueger and William Nickel are on hold pending appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court.
The production and sale of synthetic drugs is a way to meet the language of the law or get around the law. The synthetic drugs are often labeled not for human use. However, they have been blamed for at least two deaths in northeast North Dakota and for numerous visits to hospitals.
They are dangerous, and users often don’t know what they are consuming.
Stenehjem now plans to focus proposals for the upcoming legislative session on prohibiting people from selling anything they know the buyer will use to get high.
The synthetic drugs pose a new and different threat. And the state is working hard to make the drugs illegal. That’s good.
The danger posed by synthetic drugs is real. They can be fatal.
The state is playing catch-up. Even if the pharmacy board adopts the changes and the Legislature passes the bills, efforts will continue to find ways to circumvent the law.
Law enforcement will have to remain alert. Sometimes protecting citizens from themselves isn’t easy.