WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa on May 24th received full Senate passage of his legislation to impose a nationwide ban on the chemicals used to make the dangerous drugs known as “K2” or “Spice.” As Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Grassley advanced the legislation, named for a young Iowa man who took his own life after using the drug.
“An 18-year-old constituent of mine tragically took his own life after using this drug,” Grassley said. “Other deaths around the country have been linked to it. It’s poison. Its manufacturing processes are largely unknown and 100 percent unregulated. In some instances, the drug is made on the floor of a household garage. People are spraying chemicals on a pile of dried plant clippings, putting that in an envelope and selling it to kids. Anybody who ingests this substance is risking their lives. A federal ban will go a long way in preventing this poison from causing any more harm.”
Grassley said the federal ban will prevent foreign manufacturers from getting their products into the United States in the first place. And a federal ban is necessary to get the material out of stores in all 50 states. The existing state bans vary from state to state and may not be broad enough to anticipate the chemical tweaks that cynical manufacturers use to evade the ban. “And the clock is ticking on how long the current federal regulatory ban will remain in place,” Grassley said. “Congress needs to finalize a permanent, comprehensive ban effective in all 50 states.”
Last year, Grassley introduced the David Mitchell Rozga Act, S. 605, named for the 18-year-old from Indianola who took his own life in June 2010, soon after using K2 purchased from his local shopping mall. Poison control centers and emergency rooms around the country are reporting skyrocketing cases of calls and visits resulting from K2 use, with physical effects including increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures. A number of people across the country have acted violently while under the influence of the drug, dying or injuring themselves and others.
The Senate approved the Grassley legislation as part of legislation re-authorizing a key component of Food and Drug Administration funding. The Senate also approved bans of the chemicals used to make other dangerous synthetic drugs, “bath salts,” “2C-E” and others. The measures were included in an amendment from Sen. Rob Portman. “I appreciate Sen. Portman’s attention to this issue and work to move forward on a ban,” Grassley said.
The House of Representatives passed similar legislation last December. Grassley said he hopes the House will give final passage to the synthetic drug ban as soon as possible.
“The chemicals used to produce these drugs have no household use,” Grassley said. “The manufacturers and sellers of these products are engaging in a cynical money-making ploy that plays with human life. Until a final ban is in place, everyone should stay away from these products.”
It’s necessary for Congress to act to ban the chemicals used to make the new wave of synthetic drugs because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s capacity to ban chemicals is limited. Grassley’s legislation treats K2 like other banned narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine. The same is true for the bills on “bath salts” and “2C-E.”