Casey Calls for New Rules for Quick Removal of Dangerous Substances

WASHINGTON, DC— After the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) testified today that it was still studying a ban on bath salts and asked for new rules to speed up the process, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced his support for the Combating Dangerous Designer Drugs Act to allow for dangerous substances to be quickly removed from the market while being studied for permanent scheduling.  Senator Casey also submitted a statement for the record highlighting bath salt crime in Pennsylvania and urged quick action to ban the drugs.

“It is clear that bath salts are fueling crime in Pennsylvania and around the country,” said Senator Casey.  “The DEA detailed today the red tape that is contributing to delays in banning these dangerous drugs.  We need to cut through this red tape to make it easier to get these drugs off the shelves and out of our communities.”

The DEA has administratively scheduled five chemical compounds found in synthetic marijuana, commonly known as “K2” or “Spice.” However, this ban is only temporary and there is no guarantee that the chemicals will be permanently banned in the timeframe allowed.

The Combating Dangerous Designer Drugs Act of 2011 will take the chemicals the DEA has identified within synthetic drugs like synthetic marijuana and place them as Schedule I narcotics with other deadly drugs like meth and cocaine.

The legislation will also amend the Controlled Substances Act, doubling the timeframe the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services have to emergency schedule substances from 18 months to 36 months.  This will allow for dangerous substances to be quickly removed from the market while being studied for permanent scheduling. 

See below for a statement submitted to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control by Senator Casey:

Chairman Feinstein and Co-Chairman Grassley, I commend you for holding this important and timely hearing on synthetic drugs.  I am particularly concerned about the prevalence and abuse of “bath salts” throughout Pennsylvania and the United States.  Marketed as bath crystals, plant food, and herbal incense, the synthetic chemicals MDPV and mephedrone have a similar effect on the body as cocaine and methamphetamines.  Unlike cocaine and methamphetamines, however, “bath salts” are sold legally in most states, including in my home state of Pennsylvania.

The misuse of “bath salts” has led to many violent crimes, particularly in northeastern Pennsylvania.  This past month, a priest was stabbed by a man who admitted to being high on “bath salts.”  In February, a teen who crashed his car in Dickson City admitted that he had taken “bath salts.”  In Wilkes-Barre, two women who took “bath salts” were charged with driving erratically with two children in the car.  One man was arrested three days in a row in Wilkes-Barre for chasing cars around a parking lot and entering parked cars.  A couple in West Pittston was arrested for endangering their child after police found them stabbing the walls of their home with knives because they believed there were people in the walls.

These are just a few examples of the devastation that “bath salts” are having on communities.  In a recent article in the Scranton Times-Tribune, Dr. William J. Dempsey Jr., an emergency room doctor at Community Medical Center, said the number of patients high on bath salts that he has seen over the last four to six months is reaching "almost epidemic proportions."  As I stated on March 29 in a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), DEA should use its authority to temporarily ban the chemicals in “bath salts” to immediately take these dangerous drugs off our streets.