Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys and other elected officials in Jena where he signed a new law criminalizing "bath salts" and synthetic marijuana. HB 12 by Rep. Ricky Templet criminalizes base chemical groups of synthetic Cannabinoids and Cathinones, and any manipulation or addition to these base compounds.
Governor Jindal worked with law enforcement officials since late last year to help crack down on bath salts drugs. The Louisiana Poison Control Center received 165 calls between September 2010 and January this year related to bath salts drug use. Around December, the poison control center was getting more than ten calls a day and Louisiana quickly became the state with the most abuse of these bath salt drugs -- then being legally sold in stores under the names of Ivory Wave, Ocean, Charge +, White Lightning, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Red Dove, Cloud 9, White Dove, and others.
In order to remove these drugs from stores in Louisiana, Governor Jindal directed the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals to issue an emergency rule in January 2010 adding six chemicals marketed as "plant food" or "bath salts" to the Controlled Dangerous Substance Law. That move temporarily made those drugs illegal to possess, manufacture or distribute in Louisiana. The law signed by Governor Jindal today permanently criminalizes bath salts and synthetic marijuana, as well as other variants that are not currently scheduled in the Controlled Dangerous Substance Law.
Governor Jindal said, "As the drug pushers in laboratories work to come up with different compounds to try to sell to our young people, this new law allows police to stay one step ahead of these criminals by outlawing chemical compounds that even resemble the components in these dangerous drugs. We must work together to put a stop to these dangerous drugs and we are taking a serious step to do that by signing this bill into law. To all the drug dealers and criminals working in drug labs, we want the message to go out loud and clear -- we will fight you every step of the way to protect our communities and keep these deadly drugs out of our stores and off of our streets. You will not sell your drugs here in Louisiana."
Rep. Ricky Templet said, "It was just a few months ago when we saw bath salts flood into our communities and put our children in danger. We learned from then, that going forward, our law enforcement officials in the field needed the legal resources necessary to keep these harmful substances off the street -- no matter what chemical compounds were created or altered. This bill will make sure that no matter how bath salts or synthetic marijuana are chemically created -- these drugs will remain illegal and the distributors and producers will go to jail."
The Controlled Dangerous Substance Law classifies and lists certain controlled dangerous substances into schedules. Drugs on Schedule 1 include ecstasy, marijuana and heroin, and because of this legislation it will now include base chemical groups of synthetic Cathinones and synthetic Cannabinoids and any variation of those chemical compounds.
At least 12 deaths nationwide have been directly linked to bath salt drug substances to date, and there have already been 4,042 reports of these drugs being ingested by people in the US this year. Calls to the Louisiana Poison Center in December 2010 represented 61 percent of the calls received nationally. By June 2011, Louisiana received less than 1 percent of the calls taken by all U.S. Poison Centers related to synthetic cathinone "bath salts" products.
La. State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said, "We in law enforcement have seen firsthand the dangerous affects of these synthetic drugs. Whether called to a crash involving impairment or responding to an overdose, the outcome is disturbing. These drugs have no place in our communities and this new law provides us the mechanism we need to ensure that they are removed from our streets and out of the hands of our children."
DHH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said, "Banning these substances permanently is an important step to protecting our young people from their deadly effects. It's also a strong reminder to parents that there are so many dangers out there. If you are concerned about someone you love, take steps today to get them help. Laws like this help us create the right environment, but it takes all of us working together to keep our children safe."
Louisiana Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Michael Ranatza said, "Deputies are on the front lines in our communities in the fight against drugs. We have seen the impact that these synthetic drugs have on individuals, families and communities. We will continue this fight and this legislation ensures that we can be successful."
LaSalle Parish Sheriff Franklin said, "Last fall at a town hall meeting in Jena we presented the devastating effects that bath salts were having on citizens of our parish. The Governor's administration issued an emergency rule within a week, which enabled us to get a handle on this plague. Today we are witnessing government at its best with the signing of this permanent law. I can't thank the Governor and Legislature enough for their dedication and hard work on creating and passing this bill into law."