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DEA plans to ban three chemicals in bath salts

As reported in previous posts, New Jersey recently banned several chemical compounds that are found in the designer drug bath salts. Now, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is also poised to impose an emergency ban on three chemicals commonly found in the synthetic drug. The three chemicals are methylone, mephedrone and MDPV. The federal agency plans to impose the ban in about a month.

Thirty states, including New Jersey, have passed laws outlawing chemicals found in bath salts. The DEA has said that states may be able to act more quickly than the federal government to make the manufacture, distribution and possession of designer drugs illegal.

The Federal Analog Act makes a drug illegal if its purpose is to mimic the effects of already-illegal drugs and has no other purpose as a product or medical use. Not many cases are pursued under the Federal Analog Act, but the numbers are expected to go up as the numbers of people selling and using designer drugs also rises.

Charges have generally been more commonly brought in cases where a person died, such as a recent case in Minnesota where a man has been charged with murder for giving the synthetic drug 2C-E to another man who overdosed and died.

A federal ban would make it easier for federal authorities in one state to press drug charges against out-of-state online designer drug sellers. Last March, the DEA imposed an emergency ban on five chemicals found in synthetic marijuana. Even though this federal ban was placed on the synthetic drug, which is sold as incense, authorities cannot stop the sale and distribution and possession of all fake pot because the chemical make-up of the products can be altered to get around the ban.

It is possible the Federal Analog Act will be used more as a result, but prosecutors who pursue charges under this law have to prove that the drug was sold explicitly for consumption and most of these drugs are labeled "not for human consumption."

Source: Star Tribune, "DEA clamps down on synthetic drugs," Larry Oakes, Sept. 8, 2011

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