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Legislation advances to ban chemicals used in synthetic drugs

August 4, 2011
by News release
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Washington, D.C. — Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has received Judiciary Committee passage of his legislation to ban the chemicals used to make the synthetic marijuana products known as “K2” or “Spice.” As committee Ranking Member, Grassley advanced the legislation, named for an Iowa man who took his own life after using the drug.

“People are buying this drug so easily at the local mall or online that they think it’s safe,” Grassley said. “The marketing is deceptive. The product is readily available. This all makes the drug seem harmless. It’s anything but harmless. David Rozga lost his life from using this product. Others also have died or been seriously injured. Congress needs to permanently control the substances used in this drug so no more lives are lost.”

In March, Grassley introduced the David Mitchell Rozga Act, S. 605, named for the 18-year-old from Indianola who took his own life in June 2010, soon after using K2 purchased from his local shopping mall. Poison control centers and emergency rooms around the country are reporting skyrocketing cases of calls and visits resulting from K2 use, with physical effects including increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures.

A number of people across the country have acted violently while under the influence of the drug, dying or injuring themselves and others.

David Rozga’s death may have been the first in the country stemming from this new type of synthetic drug. In January, a high-school student in Omaha killed his assistant principal and himself. He had K2 in his system.

Grassley met with the Rozga family last August, and David’s father traveled to Washington to testify in April at a Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing that Grassley co-chaired.

K2 abuse has even led all branches of the military to ban the use of the synthetic drug after high-profile cases arose at the Naval Academy and on the U.S.S. Bataan, which was deployed to Libya.

In addition to approving Grassley’s bill today, the Judiciary Committee also approved bills from other senators that would ban the chemicals used to make other dangerous synthetic drugs, “bath salts,” “2C-E” and others.

"All of these drugs should be banned as soon as possible,” Grassley said. “They’re all highly dangerous to users. The chemicals used to produce them have no household use. The manufacturers and sellers of these products are engaging in a cynical money-making ploy that plays with human life.”

It’s necessary for Congress to act to ban the chemicals used to make the new wave of synthetic drugs because the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s capacity to ban chemicals is limited. Grassley’s legislation treats K2 like other banned narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine. The same is true for the bills on “bath salts” and “2C-E.”

The text of Grassley’s prepared written statement at today’s Judiciary Committee meeting is available here. Video of his verbal remarks delivered at the Judiciary Committee session is available here.