Senator hopes for signature on synthetic drugs law this week
In what is being called the most important legislation of the year, lawmakers are working to ban synthetic drugs like Spice and bath salts.
All of the products are sold in Indiana under a variety of names, but the common thread is they are intended to get the user high. But that is about to change if legislation authored by State Senator Jim Merritt makes it through the Statehouse.
"This is the bill of the session, I think," said Merritt (R-Hamilton County).
The proposed law is going through some last-minute changes. Number one is adding pressure on the stores that sell the products, which are typically convenience stores or head shops.
"We want the retailer to think twice before they sell this and we also want to protect the retailer from the rogue clerks who might be selling it out the back door or under the counter," said Merritt.
Last year, lawmakers banned several of the compounds found in products like Spice and K2, however, the manufacturers found a way around the law by changing the chemical makeup.
Eyewitness News bought some of the products that are currently not banned and had them tested. The manufacturer simply added or removed molecules, which changes the name of the active ingredient, but not its purpose. That loophole would close, making all synthetic drugs, from Spice to bath salts, illegal to sell or possess.
Once the law makes it to Governor Mitch Daniels' desk, it becomes law the minute he signs it. Once the governor signs the bill, there will be an amnesty period for stores to turn over what products they do have to the state.
"We are putting the plans together where you can drop off all of the products that have been on your counter," said Merritt.
Ultimately, selling or possessing synthetic drugs in Indiana will carry the same penalty as traditional narcotics.
"Trying to find the people that make this stuff, I think that is the real evil and those are the people that need to go to jail," said Merritt.
Senator Merritt is hopeful the bill will be on the governor's desk by Friday (March 2).