The only thing that is clear about Senator Rand Paul’s interference with HB1254, a bill to outlaw synthetic marijuana, is that innocent people continue to suffer and drug dealers continue to make a lot of money.
The outbreak of kidney failure in Casper, Wyoming is not Rand Paul’s concern. After all, he would argue, these kidney failures and hospitalizations was the fault of those who took the drug. Never mind that most of them were teens, none of them were warned by packaging or regulation, and they all bought the stuff over the counter.
The fact that thousands of young military personnel with promising futures have been dismissed from the service is not his concern either. Nor is the issue that these men may be using high-powered weapons under the psychotic affects of synthetic drugs. No, Rand Paul is worried about the poor drug dealers, instead.
It isn’t important to Rand Paul, now that we are finding out that a mother who killed her teenage children in Florida, and Jared Lee Loughner — the psychotic shooter of Gabrielle Giffords — were probably using synthetic marijuana. It’s probably too late to apologize to those victims, anyways, right Senator Paul?
It’s better to worry about those drug dealers. After all, they might give you some needed campaign cash! (Maybe they already have?)
Intransigence on part of Senate’s Paul thwarts bill to ban synthetic pot, Schumer complains
Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 1:06 AM Updated: Tuesday, March 06, 2012, 1:10 AM
“He’s a libertarian — his view is that the government shouldn’t tell you what drugs you can take or not; if you want to harm yourself, that’s your business,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of Paul, a Kentucky Republican and the son of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul.
“Fair enough, but when you take these drugs you harm other people. You harm your family, you can harm others you get in a fight with. You drive while using these drugs, there’s a phenomenon called drugged driving, you hurt other people.”
The drug in question is synthetic marijuana, which is sold as incense and potpourri under the names “Pandora Potpourri,” “K2,” Legal Phunk” and “Spice.”
The Advance highlighted the rise of synthetic marijuana in November 2010 — a reporter was able to buy a small container of one variation of the substance, “Mr. Smiley,” online for $5.
Speaking at a press conference on the grounds of Staten Island University Hospital, Ocean Breeze, Schumer said that emergency calls to poison control centers about the drug have skyrocketed over the past two years, starting with just 13 in 2009 and spiking to more than 2,900 in 2010, and more than 6,900 in 2011.
“By marketing it as Pandora Potpourri, K2 or Spice, and by tweaking a few of the chemical compounds, synthetic marijuana is legal,” Schumer said. “That’s completely unacceptable. Powdered cocaine wouldn’t be legal just because you stamped powdered sugar on the bag.”
He has co-sponsored a bill, the David Mitchell Rozga Act, with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and a companion piece has already passed the House of Representatives, but Paul stands in its way.
Schumer called yesterday on Paul to allow the bill to be debated on the Senate floor so it can come up for a vote. Otherwise, he said, “It’ll take about a month to debate it, because Paul can throw, any senator can throw, so many roadblocks in the way, it just stretches things out. And with so much to do, it’s hard to give a whole month to this bill, which will get 95 or 96 or 97 of 100 votes.”
As of last night, neither Paul nor his staff responded to a request seeking comment on Schumer’s remarks, though staff members acknowledged receiving the request. In past public statements he has told reporters that the decision to ban synthetic drugs should be taken up by local and state authorities, not the federal government.
Synthetic marijuana is typically sold in a variety of flavors in three-gram bags for between $20 and $50. It goes by any number of names and carries the disclaimer “not for human consumption.”
It was first developed in the South Carolina lab of a Clemson University professor for research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop therapies for conditions such as osteoporosis, liver disease and some kinds of cancer. Users have reported racing heartbeats, elevated blood pressure, anxiety and nausea.
“About 15 percent of folks carry a gene for psychosis, and these synthetic cannabinoids as well as regular cannabis can precipitate psychosis,” said Dr. H. B. Cummings, the director of clinical services at Staten Island University Hospital. “These are definitely substances that we do not want to have in the hands of people from 12 to about 34, who are likely to use this substance.
The federal DEA in December 2010 issued a temporary ban on five chemical compounds used to make “fake pot products,” but Schumer said that the agency is essentially playing a game of “whack-a-mole” in trying to keep up with the different variations of the product without legislation.
One Islander at the press conference, Susan Amato, called her 30-year-old son’s experience regularly taking synthetic marijuana a “nightmare” that nearly cost him his job and required he go into detox.
“There’s nothing natural to it. It’s poison, and it should be taken off the market,” she said.