Katko Introduces Synthetic Drug Bill

Congressman John Katko introduces bill, H.R. 4229, to crack down on the amount of synthetic drugs imported and sold in the United States.
Nina Fenton
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Will a bill designed to combat the use of synthetic drugs really work? Well, there’s no doubt that these drugs are sweeping through the country as drug users flock to convenient stores and bodegas in the hopes of getting their hands on the brightly colored little packets with catchy names and promises of getting the user high without breaking any laws or showing up in drug tests.

These packets aren’t telling users something important, though. Simply put, synthetic drugs are dangerous and the effects felt by users can be as unpredictable as the behaviors exhibited while under the influence. Some who experiment with synthetic drugs like K2 Spice or Flakka end up in the emergency room, some end up in jail and some end up in the morgue. These dangers have healthcare workers, drug prevention advocates, parents, law enforcement and lawmakers concerned and looking for a solution.

Well, New York’s Congressman John Katko has something he thinks will help reduce the amount of synthetic drugs that are sold and distributed in the nation with the help of the newly introduced bipartisan bill, H.R. 4229, the Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act.

New York has been a hot bed of synthetic drug activity with K2 Spice infiltrating lower income neighborhoods and homeless communities in the Bronx and Brooklyn, leaving first responders and hospitals scrambling to find a solution. Katko has had a front row seat to the chaos brought on by these drugs, so he couldn’t help but feel compelled to fight back.

“As a federal prosecutor, I saw first-hand the dangerous impact of synthetic drug use on individuals and families in our community. That’s why, as Central New York’s Representative in Congress, I’ve committed to working with local law enforcement, healthcare providers, and community advocates to raise awareness of the dangerous effect of these drugs. This legislation will help this effort by giving law enforcement and prosecutors the flexibility that they need to crack down on the manufacturers and sellers of these substances,” he said.

Joint Effort to Combat Synthetic Drug Use

Dr. Indu Gupta, MD, MPH, MA, FACP of the Onondaga County Health Department Commissioner has seen the many dangers associated with the use of synthetic drugs. She was present when Katko presented the bill in a show of solidarity and concern for drug users not just in Syracuse where she practices medicine, but nationwide.

“Increasing use of synthetic cannabinoids can result in serious health consequences from bizarre behavior, paranoia, seizures, kidney failure, heart injury including death. Frequent changes in the chemical structure of these products pose challenges to health care providers, public health, and law enforcement officials alike. This is a serious public health threat and requires a joint approach from all of us to combat it,” said Dr. Gupta.

Also speaking out about the importance of the bill is Katko’s partner in bringing awareness to the very serious problem posed by synthetic drugs is Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick.

He said, “The scourge of synthetic drugs has destroyed lives in communities across the country, including ours. Responding to the waves of this poison inundating and local governments. During that time, I have advocated for federal laws to adequately address those challenges. It took someone with John Katko’s background and experience to understand the deadly nature of this problem. He listened and as he has already shown in his short time in Congress, he acted. This legislation is smart, timely, and badly needed. I applaud the efforts of Congressman Katko and I urge his colleagues in Congress to act swiftly.”

What Will the Bill Do?

The Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act will:

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Establish an interagency committee that will consist of scientific experts of chemistry and pharmacology from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and various other federal factions appointed by the Attorney General with input from the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The committee that is formed will then be tasked with establishing and maintaining an administrative list of synthetic drugs or controlled substance analogues.
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It will be considered unlawful to import synthetic drugs into the United States and its customs territories if the drug in question is on the controlled substance analogue list. Importing any of the substances listed is only permitted if they are not to be used by humans.
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The U.S. Sentencing Commission will review and amend federal sentencing guidelines and various policy statements.
WRITTEN BY

Nina works hard to be a voice to the voiceless whose stories about drug testing, DNA testing and paternity deserve to be told. It is her goal to always come from a place free of judgment and full of compassion.

WRITTEN BY

Nina works hard to be a voice to the voiceless whose stories about drug testing, DNA testing and paternity deserve to be told. It is her goal to always come from a place free of judgment and full of compassion.

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