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AG Wants Changes In Laws Governing Synthetic Drugs

Ohio lawmakers have passed a crack down on synthetic drugs known as bath salts. But state authorities say the drug makers are finding ways to get around the law. Ohio's attorney general is trying to change that. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

Sometimes when police in Ohio try to arrest someone for selling bath salts or synthetic marijuana, they run into problems when the tests results of those substances come back from the labs.  Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says that’s because the drug makers have learned how to get around the new law through changing the formulation.

DeWine – What you have is people who are drug dealers who are chemists and people who are making a lot of money who are constantly changing the formulation.  They don’t care whether they kill people or not.  They just care about making money.

DeWine says the current method of defining specific chemical compounds in law is not working.  So he wants to make a change.  He wants the Ohio Pharmacy Board to be able to be able to continually update the list of illegal chemicals.

DeWine – We have to have the pharmacy board do this because simply, the chemists, the evil chemists, the evil people, are making changes faster than we could ever go to the state legislature.  We would have to go to the legislature every couple of weeks with new evidence, new information and ask them to change the law. That’s not a very practical thing to do.
The Executive Director of the State Board of Pharmacy, Kyle Parker, says he understands the problem and is willing to deal with it.

Parker – In the past, the rules specifically mention the molecule and what’s happening is the chemists are addressing that and adjusting the molecule just a bit so that it falls out of the statute and the rules so technically, it’s a legal substance.  So that’s where we are going to try to address that in rule and I don’t have the specifics yet of how but we have a good idea.

The drugs are often marketed under unique names and colorful packaging.  They can be cheap.  And they can be very dangerous.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.