State senator calls for tougher laws against distributors of synthetic drugs

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An Indiana state senator says he's tired of seeing young kids die from using synthetic drugs and is renewing efforts to get tougher punishment for dealers.

Inside the Statehouse Rotunda Friday, a focus on youth.

Senator Jim Merritt believes the biggest threat to the future of children and teens are synthetic drugs.

"They're poison and the penalties have to be increased," he told Eyewitness News.

Merritt is speaking out after the death of 16-year-old Samuel Motsay of Johnson County.

The Center Grove sophomore basketball player was found unconscious in a Greenwood home last Saturday night. Next to him, police found a new deadly designer drug known on the street as "N-Bomb" or "Smiles."

"This is not the first time 'Smiles' has actually hit," said Merritt, referring to a Fishers teen who died last month. "We can't have people dying."

Experts say "Smiles" or 25I NBOMe is a synthetic knock-off of LSD. It causes hallucinations and is ingested off blotter paper into the skin.

"They're using chemicals that were never meant for consumption," said Scott Watson of Heartland Intervention, talking about the dangerous mix.

"You don't know what you're getting and that is the danger, sometimes, with these drugs," added Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper.

Investigators in Johnson County believe Jordan Adamowicz and Kyle Hazzard bought the synthetics from Zachary Catron and then later sold it to Motsay. All three face charges in Johnson County, but Merritt says the felony charges can be reduced to a misdemeanor and simply don't go far enough.

He wants Indiana to treat synthetics just like the real thing, especially when it comes to sentencing.

"Bath salts is a powder that looks like cocaine. Spice looks like pot (or) marijuana, the LSD on the tray looks like fake LSD," he said, talking about Indiana's "look-a-like" law. It makes the possession of synthetics illegal in Indiana.

Still, Merritt says it's time Indiana acknowledge the danger and send a tougher message all around.

"If you sell it, you're going to go away. And if you use it, you're going to die," he said.

Merritt proposed tougher laws for synthetic drugs last session, but lawmakers did not take action. He hopes to get more support when he brings it back for consideration once again.