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Grassley, Feinstein bill combats candy- and fruit-flavored drugs marketed to children

WASHINGTON — Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)  this week re-introduced the Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act to increase the criminal penalties for marketing candy-flavored drugs to appeal to children.  Law enforcement reports that drug dealers frequently combine drugs with chocolate or fruit flavors or package the drugs to look like candy or soda to attract youth.  For example, there are reports of candy bracelets containing ecstasy; gummy bears laced with Xanax; and candy laced with THC.

“Cynical criminals take advantage of drug trends in the general population to market dangerous illicit drugs specifically to kids,” Grassley said. “It could be marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine or something else.  The criminals are innovative, and the law should keep up with them.  Federal law should make crystal clear that marketing potentially lethal drugs to kids will have steep consequences.”

“Science has shown that those who begin using drugs before age 21 have a greater chance of becoming lifelong addicts,” Feinstein said.  “We must do all we can to keep drugs out of the hands of children. Unfortunately, many drug dealers alter the flavor and packaging of their drugs to appeal to children, many of whom do not realize just how dangerous these substances are. This bill will provide law enforcement with new tools to prosecute drug dealers who target youth with candied or flavored drugs that can put them at greater risk of developing a lifelong addiction or even a deadly overdose.”

The Protecting Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act of 2017 would:

–Provide an enhanced penalty when a person manufactures, creates, distributes, dispenses, or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or Schedule II that is:
–Combined with a beverage or candy product,
–Marketed or packaged to appear similar to a beverage or candy product, or
–Modified by flavoring or coloring to appear similar to a candy or beverage product.

To be eligible for an enhanced penalty, the perpetrator must have known or had reasonable cause to believe that the modified controlled substance would be distributed to a minor.  Anyone who alters a controlled substance in these ways would be subject to the following penalties, in addition to the penalty for the underlying offense:

–Up to 10 years for the first offense
–Up to 20 years for a second or subsequent offense

The bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Directors’ Association, and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).

Grassley is chairman and Feinstein is co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control.  Grassley is chairman and Feinstein is ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over crime and sentencing.

The bill text is available here.

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