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Public Statements

Letter to Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, Chairman Upton, and Ranking Member Waxman

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today called on congressional leaders to include her bipartisan provisions banning dangerous synthetic drugs in the final Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. The FDA legislation that passed the Senate last month included Klobuchar's legislation to outlaw harmful synthetic substances such as 2C-E, which led to the death of a Minnesota teenager, as well as bills Klobuchar cosponsored banning harmful chemicals commonly found in bath salts and synthetic marijuana. In a bipartisan letter to the leaders of the House and Senate committees charged with oversight of the FDA, Klobuchar urged her colleagues to include these critical synthetic drug provisions in the final version of the FDA bill that must pass the House and Senate before being signed into law.

"These new designer drugs are taking lives and tearing apart families in Minnesota and across the country. And if we don't take action, they are going to become more and more prevalent, and put more and more people at risk," Klobuchar said."These critical provisions to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on synthetic drugs passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and I will continue to work to ensure they are signed into law."

Klobuchar, along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), has been a leader in the effort to ban harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs that have taken lives and injured many others. Klobuchar's legislation, the Combating Designer Drugs Act of 2011, bans the substance known as 2C-E, a synthetic hallucinogen, and eight other similar substances. Klobuchar has also cosponsored legislation introduced by Senator Grassley which makes illegal certain chemicals found in synthetic marijuana, often referred to as "K2" or "Spice," as well as a bill introduced by Senator Schumer that bans harmful synthetic drugs that are being sold and marketed as "bath salts" and have a similar effect on the body as cocaine and methamphetamine. All three of these bills were included in an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act that Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced.

In September of last year, Klobuchar hosted a roundtable on synthetic drugs with U.S. Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske and Minnesota law enforcement leaders. The discussion focused on efforts to curb the sale and use of dangerous synthetic drugs and highlighted how federal, state, and local leaders can work together to solve the problem. The following week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced its decision to ban three chemicals commonly found in synthetic drugs known as bath salts.

Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, which has jurisdiction over issues relating to drug control policy, and she has been a leader in strengthening drug safety standards to protect consumers.

The full text of the letter is below. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), and 14 other senators also cosigned the letter.

June 8, 2012

Tom Harkin

Chairman

United States Senate

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

428 Senate Dirksen Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Michael B. Enzi

Ranking Member

United States Senate

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

428 Senate Dirksen Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Fred Upton

Chairman

United States House of Representatives

Committee on Energy and Commerce

2125 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Henry Waxman

Ranking Member

United States House of Representatives

Committee on Energy and Commerce

2322A Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Harkin, Ranking Member Enzi, Chairman Upton, and Ranking Member Waxman,

As you work to reconcile the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act with the Food and Drug Administration Reform Act, we are writing to respectfully request that the final conference report include the language from S. 3187, Title XI, Subtitle D known as the Synthetic Abuse Prevention Act of 2012.

The popularity of synthetic drugs has exploded in recent years, and they have remained relatively easy to purchase. The latest Monitoring the Future Survey indicates that one in nine high school seniors have used synthetic drugs in the past year. Most concerning is that use is on the rise, with national poison control centers reporting 2,900 calls in 2010 for synthetic marijuana, 6,950 calls in 2011, and 2,390 calls for the first four months of 2012. They also reported that they received 300 calls for bath salts in 2010, 6,130 calls in 2011 and 1000 calls for the first four months of 2012. Use of dangerous synthetic hallucinogens such as 2C-E has also been on the rise.

Last week's gruesome cannibalistic attack in Miami involving a man reportedly high on bath salts only reinforces the need to ban these synthetic substances once and for all. We believe that parents should not have to worry that their children may buy a synthetic drug when they enter a corner store to buy milk.

The harmful impacts of these drugs have been recognized around the world, and countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Israel have acted quickly to ban these substances. Similarly, many states in the U.S. are beginning to ban the sale of these chemicals within their jurisdictions. We believe it is vital that Congress step in to ensure that these substances are banned at the federal level. This will allow the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to prevent these drugs from being distributed throughout or imported into the United States, and instead provide DEA with the authority to pursue the manufacturers of these drugs across state lines.

The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act would place 28 synthetic substances on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which would make the sale and possession of these substances illegal except for qualified researchers. According to the Food and Drug Administration and the DEA, these substances have no known medicinal qualities and are extremely dangerous. The bill is supported by the American Medical Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Administration.

Thank you for considering this important request. We look forward to working with you on this issue.


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