By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
Who can forget the infamous cannibalism attack in Miami that sparked the threat of zombies, or the “Sons of Anarchy” actor killing his landlady and falling to his death? These are just a few of the more publicized incidents where synthetic drugs are thought to be the cause of erratic behavior. Click here to read a previous blog on the Miami cannibal and Florida’s Legislation to ban synthetic drugs.
According to a Tampa Bay Times article from October 12, 2012, now that more people are using these drugs, officials are having a hard time keeping up.
Why Florida's Synthetic Drug Legislation Is Not Working.
On March 23, 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 1175. This bill outlawed more than 90 forms of synthetic drugs and included bath salts, among others. It modifies Section 893.03(1)(c), Florida Statutes, by expanding the list of banned hallucinogenic substances in Schedule I of the Florida Comprehensive Abuse Prevention and Control Act. To see the entire list of banned substances, click here.
The law that was passed in Florida put in place restrictions to prevent abuse of synthetic substances including certain synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic stimulants. Many of the synthetic substances are also commonly known as synthetic marijuana, smiles, bath salts, K2, potpourri, and incense.
The large quantities of synthetic substances are included in HB 1175 because the chemical compounds in these substances are easy to change. The ease of converting these substances into illegal drugs helps illegal drug makers, users and sellers to avoid arrest and prosecution. For example, one synthetic substance might be illegal under the Florida Comprehensive Abuse Prevention and Control Act, but a minor change in the molecular makeup can make the substance legal.
Synthetic Drug Makers are Winning.
According to the Tampa Bay Times article, Poison Control Centers nationwide received more than 6,000 calls about bath salts in 2011, which is about 20 times more than the year before. A doctor with Tampa General Hospital believes he has treated about 10 cases of intoxication from bath salts in the past year, but he cannot be sure because most toxicology labs cannot test for the newest synthetic drugs. It’s also believed more than 20 people have died in Florida from bath salts.
But in comparison, between 2001 and 2005, 465 people in Florida drowned, in 2010 nine people died from huffing helium and each year in the U.S., there are an estimated 80,000 deaths from alcohol poisoning. I don’t think alcohol, helium or swimming pools will be outlawed anytime soon.
Why Law Enforcement Officials Cannot Keep Up.
The Tampa Bay Times Article lists the reasons why law enforcement officials are falling behind.
- Authorities are targeting synthetic marijuana and bath salts are slipping by them.- Officers often don’t realize what they are seeing when they see bath salts.- Bath salts are not prescribed by doctors or dealt on the streets. Packages of bath salts can be picked up easily online, at head shops and even at convenience stores.- Currently law enforcement is focusing on the war on prescription drugs and cannot target both, unless an agency makes it a priority.
A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said another tool is needed to cut down on synthetic drugs, because “trying to ban as many chemicals as possible is going to solve this problem.”
Click here to read the entire article from the Tampa Bay Times.
Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents pharmacists, pharmacies, physicians, nurses and other health providers in investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, inspections and audits involving the DEA, Department of Health (DOH) and other law enforcement agencies. Its attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
What do you think of the war on synthetic drugs? As a health care professional, have you heard of or experienced more cases of people using these types of drugs? Are you for or against bath salts? Do you like or hate zombies? Are you alive out there or part of the living dead? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Velde, Jessica Vander. “As Florida Bath Salts Deaths Rise, Drug Enforcers Stymied.” Tampa Bay Times. (October 12, 2012). From: http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/article1256057.ece
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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