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Senator's view: Law stifles synthetic drug sales

A battle being fought in Duluth and around Minnesota over ending the sales of synthetic drugs is a significant step closer to ending.

A bill signed into law this year — by Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, and me — tightens the definition of “drug” in statute and gives greater power to the Board of Pharmacy to issue cease-and-desist orders. This law went into effect Aug. 1. The bill was written to help stop the sales of all synthetic drugs across the state. Giving the Board of Pharmacy cease-and-desist authority specifically challenges the past problem of chemists changing one compound in a drug to claim it legal again.

Additionally, as a result of strong advocacy by Simonson, a public-awareness campaign was included in the law. It calls on the state departments of education, health, human services and public safety to include synthetic drugs in their educational programming.

The Twin Ports has seen too many deaths, too many overdoses and families injured because of the scourge that synthetic drugs brought to our community. Thankfully, due to the closing of the Last Place On Earth and legislative actions like this one, we are heading down a healthier path.

During the last week of July, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld injunctions against Last Place On Earth and its labeling by the Duluth District Court as a “public nuisance.” Residents and visitors of Duluth undoubtedly have seen and felt the difference in our downtown: cleaner, safer and friendlier. Those are things we all want in our downtown shopping and entertainment experience.

Now, with the new law in effect, when it becomes known a store is selling a new type of synthetic drug, it won’t take weeks or months to shut it down; swift action can be taken instead. And the new public-awareness campaign can begin to teach people, especially young people, about the dangers of these drugs.

As reported by the Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs, led by Simonson, synthetic marijuana is actually nothing like its name. It is up to 100 times more powerful than typical marijuana, made up of plant material sprayed with extremely potent psychotropic drugs, containing ever-changing chemical strains.

While the battle continues against the production and sale of synthetic drugs, you already can tell by the closing of Last Place On Earth that by taking away supply a community can improve almost instantly.

With smart legislative solutions paired with strong education and public awareness, Minnesota, and Duluth, will continue to move in a positive direction, hopefully serving as a model for other states battling the same problem.

Roger Reinert of Duluth represents the 7th District in the Minnesota Senate.

Roger Reinert

Roger Reinert is a Duluth resident.