Lawmakers play leapfrog on synthetic drugs

2013-05-23T14:00:00Z 2013-05-29T10:01:19Z Lawmakers play leapfrog on synthetic drugsBy KEVIN O'HANLON / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

In what has turned into a game of leapfrog, Nebraska lawmakers are moving to ban the newest generation of substances used to make so-called “designer” drugs.

They gave second-round approval on a voice vote Thursday to a bill (LB298) by Sen. Beau McCoy of Omaha to update laws passed two years ago aimed at compounds used to make synthetic drugs, such as K2 and bath salts.

Nebraska lawmakers, like their counterparts across the nation, have to keep ahead of the drug-making advances as drug users keep finding new compounds to get around those bans.

"There are substances being added that weren't around two years ago," McCoy said. "These chemical compounds are created in a laboratory for specific reactors in a human brain, in a human body.

"These substances have no useful purpose outside of deadly lethal synthetic drugs that damage individuals ... potentially for the rest of their lives," he said.

McCoy's bill would update Nebraska's Uniformed Controlled Substances Act to include third and fourth generation synthetic cannabinoids used to make the drug commonly known as K2 or Spice. It also would include synthetic phenethylamines used to make Blue Mystic, 7th Heaven and Smiles, and synthetic tryptamines commonly known as Foxy.

K2 and Spice are trade names for synthetic marijuana, a psychoactive drug made from natural herbs that are sprayed with chemicals and mimic the effects of marijuana. Some studies have shown that synthetic marijuana can cause psychosis — in some cases for prolonged periods.

Blue Mystic, 7th Heaven and Smiles are psychedelics generally taken orally. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America says the compound can be lethal even in small doses.

Foxy also is a psychedelic taken by inhalation, smoking or injection. It can cause clinical intoxication, agitation and hallucinations, among other things.

Tracey Ray, crime laboratory director for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said lawmakers might have to keep introducing legislation to fight not-yet-invented compounds.

"The legislation is written in the class approach to try to encompass most of the designer drugs that we are currently seeing and hopefully new ones that emerge," Ray said. "Unfortunately, one cannot predict what new designer drug trends will be seen and if they will fall into the current legislation, so there is always a possibility that new legislation will be proposed."

McCoy's bill faces one more round of consideration.

Reach Kevin O'Hanlon at 402-473-2682 or kohanlon@journalstar.com.

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