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Public Statements

Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. We are all opposed to the damage that these drugs can do to the American people, but I have to express my opposition to this bill.

My concern about the bill is its effect on scientific research. When a drug is placed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, it becomes difficult to obtain not only for illegal purposes but for researchers who wish to study its pharmaceutical and medical potential. While this may be justified for some
drugs, it isn't a restriction that should be implemented rashly. That's because it becomes very difficult for scientists to get permission to obtain these molecules even for the scientific study that we need.

For example, in the United States, only 325 researchers have been able to obtain Schedule I licenses at this moment. Congress established the procedure for scheduling drugs, and it requires a scientific and medical evaluation. This bill would bypass that process rather than relying on scientific and medical experts. I've heard from faculty from a range of universities, and they've shared their concerns about the impact.

Here is what Warren Heideman, Ph.D., professor of pharmaceutical sciences and associate dean for Research, School of Pharmacy, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writes:

``The bill is an irrational, simplistic response to a social problem of great complexity. As such, the world will get significantly less medical and technical help with a low probability of helping anyone with a substance abuse issue. The list is too broad and does seriously restrict what would otherwise be important and easy experiments. Paperwork problems are already a serious campus concern.''


Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Here is what Dr. Neal Benowitz, M.D., the chief of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, writes:

``While we support restrictions on the sale of these chemicals for purposes of illicit use ..... scheduling so as to impede access to precursor chemicals in small quantities has the potential to seriously hamper medical research. On balance, the faculty are against this measure.''

John Arnold, the faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, writes:

``This effort is well-intentioned, but it will cause more problems than it solves.''

We are all against drugs that harm our people; but we had no hearings in the Judiciary Committee on this, and I think the placing of these molecules on Schedule I is evidence of that lack of scholarship. These drugs need to be controlled, but they need to be controlled in such a way that there is no harm done to the vital scientific and medical research that we count on.

I join the gentleman from Virginia in urging a ``no'' vote on this bill in the hopes that we can come back with a measure that accomplishes the worthy goals without doing damage to scientific research, which will save so many lives.


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