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Monday, July 13, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana struggles to tackle synthetic drug problem"

Roberto Roldan reported this weekend in the Louisville Courier Journal:

Synthetic drugs such as “spice” and “bath salts” are moving from the corner store to the black market as Indiana searches for the best way to eradicate the dangerous chemicals.

State lawmakers had passed a ban on synthetic drugs in 2013 allowed the state Pharmacy Board to add new chemicals to the list as state drug labs identified them.

But that part of the law has been ruled unconstitutionally vague by a state court of appeals because it said information on new banned chemicals isn’t made readily available to residents. The case has advanced to the state Supreme Court. * * *

Much of the controversy over synthetic drug prosecutions are due to the ever-changing nature of the drug. Lawmakers in Indiana have struggled for years to define exactly what kind of blanket ban would put the biggest dent in the industry.

Under the 2013 law, the Pharmacy Board of Indiana has identified and banned roughly 80 new substances. And the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency is currently looking at more than 300 synthetic drug compounds known to them.

Kim Early, who tests seized drugs at the Indiana State Police crime lab in Evansville, said it is not always clear when running the tests whether or not the drugs are actually known to the state as an illegal substance.

And because reporting new substances and getting them on state ban lists can take months, possession of these unknown chemicals can fall into a legal gray area.

“Sometimes it seems like the criminals are a step ahead of us in terms of new chemicals and sometimes it feels like we are caught up, it just depends,” Early said.

Law enforcement officers in Southern Indiana said they are left confused about whether or not they can arrest individuals if they don’t know what they have is actually illegal.

“If there is a banned substance in there, by the time we get it back from the state crime labs, they’ve changed it up,” Kessinger said. “We can’t ever get ahead of it unless we find some old stock that still has some banned stuff in there.”

ILB: For background, start with this ILB post from June 19th.

You can watch the July 2nd Supreme Court oral argument in Aadil Ashfaque v. State of Indiana AND Christopher Tiplick v. State of Indiana here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 13, 2015 10:23 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts | Indiana Government