Attorney General Pam Bondi is working with several agencies to crack down on synthetic drug abuse, among children and young adults. Bondi filed an Emergency rule Tuesday outlawing 22 new substances that are commonly marketed as an alternative to drugs, like marijuana.
Synthetic drugs can cause psychotic episodes, seizures, and paranoia. And, Attorney General Pam Bondi says the substances, commonly known as bath salts, K2, or spice, have been linked to thousands of emergency room visits nationwide.
“More than 11,000 ER visits nationwide involved a synthetic cannaboid product in 2010," said Bondi. 75-percent of those visits were from people ranging from people age 12 to 29, and alarmingly, many of those were people ranging from 12 to 17.”
So, at a news conference Tuesday, Bondi says she wants to ban a new list of synthetic drugs often perceived as legal.
“If you look at this, it says ‘not for human consumption.’ And, I’ve seen many of the products we’ve seized that we know are illegal," said Bondi. "And, you look at the back of them, and they place a rubber stamp on them that says this is not illegal, and the sad thing is our children are buying it.”
Bondi says the substances are usually marketed as an alternative to drugs, like ecstasy, marijuana, and cocaine. And, she says she’s continually disgusted by how they market the products toward children.
“These are Scooby Snacks. You think this is directed at an adult? This is directed at a young child! Look at this one. It’s cotton candy, and if you touch and feel it, it feels like cotton candy. These are marketed to children,…Batman, the Joker. These are disgusting," exclaimed Bondi.
Her office has been working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as well as the Florida Department of Health across the state to crack down on synthetic drug use. FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey says law enforcement is making headway on the effort, but at times, it can be hard:
“The main difference between these drugs and illegal drugs we regularly deal with are these are readily available on the open market, like truck stops, smoke shops, convenient stories, and now over the internet,” said Bailey.
He says since Bondi’s announcement Tuesday morning, law enforcement officers across the state have been visiting the retailers and asking them to willingly surrender their product. Those who refuse could face a third degree felony charge.
Bondi has worked with the Florida Legislature to outlaw similar substances before, but manufacturers keep producing the drugs with new chemicals. She says she plans to continue working with Florida lawmakers to ban the 22 additional drugs permanently.
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