Hats off to local efforts to ban synthetic drugs

By George Darany
Michigan now has new laws banning synthetic drugs and making it more difficult for the producers of these products to keep making and selling it by just changing the ingredients they use. These designer drugs, usually sold under the names of Spice and K2, can have dangerous side effects such as seizures or even strokes.

Health officials have reported nearly 200 hospitalizations statewide after the use of synthetic drugs. In our own community, we have unfortunately become familiar with the devastating effects caused by the use of these sythetic drugs. Which is just one reason why I am very pleased that my legislative colleagues across the aisle and in both chambers worked together to quickly approve this legislation and ban these dangerous drugs.

It is no secret that these synthetic drugs have been marketed to our teens and young people. But because of the continuing changes to these chemical cocktails, these substances are often just as dangerous, if not more so, than the drugs they intend to copy.

Under a Michigan law passed in September 2010, the possession or use of certain synthetic drugs was banned. The legislation that was introduced in the Senate this year, updated Michigan’s law so that the penalties for the sale and use of certain synthetic drugs would be similar to that for other Schedule 1 controlled substances.

The bills that Gov. Rick Snyder recently signed into law — House Bills 5714, 5338, and Senate Bills 789 and 1082 — ban specific chemical compounds used to make synthetic drugs, and also allow the Michigan Department of Community Health to declare a product an “imminent danger.” This designation will create a process by which the state Board of Pharmacy can more quickly label a product a controlled substance so it cannot be sold over the counter. Our new laws will make it easier to quickly get these products off the shelves so that they are not readily available for young people and others to abuse.

I want to also recognize the efforts of the many concerned citizens in Dearborn and across Michigan who have worked so hard to convince store owners to voluntarily remove synthetic drugs from their shelves. The efforts of these mothers, fathers, siblings and concerned citizens have encouraged our local governments to locally ban the sale of these substances.

A number of Michigan communities have banned these drugs and the city of Dearborn has also been working diligently on passing local ordinances. This is a good example of the power of concerned citizens to create change and improve our communities. I especially appreciate the efforts of the Dearborn Police Department and Chief Ronald Haddad, Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak, Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., the Dearborn City Council, Dearborn Public Schools, and the many others who have played a role in protecting our communities and young people from these dangerous substances. Their hard work and concern has paid off and helped make our cities safer and will also help save many young lives.

It’s safe to say that these synthetic drugs have been a scourge in our communities. With these new laws that will take effect by July 1, we can look forward to quicker action against these drugs if manufacturers persist in trying to flood the stores with these dangerous products.

We can also stay involved in protecting our young people and our communities through the Michigan State Police tip line. To report anyone still selling synthetic drugs or K2 call 855-MICH-TIP 855-642-4847, or report it online at www.michtip.state.mi.us/.

(State Rep. George Darany represents the 15th House District. To contact him, call 855-775-1515 or email him at georgetdarany@house.mi.gov. To sign up for his e-newsletter, visit his website, house.mi.gov/gdarany.)