Pennsylvania House weighs expansion of designer drug ban

The Pennsylvania legislature is currently considering a bill that would expand the types of synthetic drugs that are prohibited. The state currently has laws that ban these substances, including bath salts, synthetic marijuana and any substance designed to imitate the effects of heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine. However, drug manufacturers are still able to change the formulation of the drug and produce a similar substance that is not contained within the list of illegal substances.

Supporters of the bill, known as House Bill 1217, believe that if it ultimately becomes law, it will be more difficult for synthetic drug manufacturers to get around the law by making minor chemical changes. This may make it easier for law enforcement to catch those creating and selling so-called designer drugs.

The bill was approved by a legislative committee in the House of Representatives on April 22. The full House will now consider the proposed law. If it passes the House, it must also be approved by the Senate before being forwarded to the governor for approval. It was not stated whether or not the governor supports the bill.

Act 7 of 2011 amended the Pennsylvania controlled substance act to make designer drugs a Schedule I controlled substance, which means the government believes the drugs have no accepted medical purpose and a high potential for abuse. Any person who has been charged with a crime related to the possession, sale or manufacture of designer drugs may benefit from speaking with a defense lawyer to discuss the situation. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to get a person into a drug diversion program to avoid some of the penalties of a conviction or possibly negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution for a reduced sentence.

Source: WHTM, “Pa. bill would expand designer drug ban,” Myles Snyder, April 23, 2013

Source: General Assembly, “SB 1006,” June 23, 2011

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