August 22, 2018

Senators Hassan, Cassidy, Jones, and Young Introduce Bipartisan Synthetic Drug Awareness Act

WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Todd Young (R-IN) yesterday introduced the bipartisan Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2018 to help address addiction and the drug abuse epidemic, including the growing use of synthetic drugs, that continues to ravage communities in New Hampshire and across the country. The bipartisan bill would require the Surgeon General to report to Congress on the health effects of new psychoactive substances, including synthetic drugs, on young adults ranging from 12-18 years of age.

Synthetic drugs mimic the effects of illegal narcotics and, in some cases, are developed in attempts to evade regulation. Recently, there were reports that more than 70 people overdosed on what authorities believed to be synthetic marijuana. Since 2009, the use of synthetics has increased rapidly, and emergency room visits resulting from synthetic marijuana and amphetamines have doubled across the country. Unfortunately, there is very little research on the negative effects of these synthetic drugs on the brains of young people, and this bipartisan bill seeks to address that.

“As synthetic drugs continue to exacerbate the deadly substance misuse crisis that is ravaging communities across New Hampshire and the entire country, and as more young people are visiting emergency rooms from using drugs such as synthetic marijuana, it is critical that we fully understand the negative impact such drugs have on our young people,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill will help better inform our approach to protecting young people from these dangerous drugs and falling victim to the horrific substance misuse crisis that’s plaguing our country.” 

“This legislation is about protecting our communities from lethal drugs. The more we know about the effects of lethal drugs, the more we can help prevent addiction,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We need to do everything we can to ensure safer communities and healthier families in Louisiana.”

“While we are making some strides to turn the tide on the opioid crisis across the country, there has been a proliferation of synthetic drugs like fentanyl that pose significant dangers to both users and others who may come into contact with synthetic drugs,” said Senator Jones. “The Synthetic Drug Awareness Act would ensure we have all the information available to us about the effects of these drugs and would help us understand the best path forward to root out these dangerous substances from our communities.”

“As the drug epidemic continues to ravage communities in Indiana and across the country, we must take steps to understand all aspects of this crisis, including the growth of synthetic drug use among young people. By requiring the Surgeon General to report the health effects of new synthetic drugs to Congress, this bipartisan bill will help provide the tools needed to comprehend this growing trend and keep our young people safe,” said Senator Young.  

Synthetic fentanyl and carfentanil are also exacerbating the horrific heroin, fentanyl, and opioid epidemic in New Hampshire and across the country. From 2014 to 2015, the death rate from synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, increased by 72.2%.

For the text of the bill, click here. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan declared a state of emergency in the Granite State following overdoses that were linked to “Smacked,” a synthetic marijuana product. The state of emergency allowed public health and safety officials to investigate and help get the dangerous drug off of the streets.

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