Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Christie Signs Law Banning 'Designer Drugs'

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie yesterday signed SCS-2829, criminalizing the manufacturing, distribution, sales, and possession of designer drugs labeled as "bath salts" in New Jersey. The bill, known as “Pamela’s Law,” was named in memory of Pamela Schmidt, a Rutgers student and resident of Warren Township, who was believed to have been murdered by an individual under the influence of “bath salts.” The measure codifies previous action taken by the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety.

In signing the legislation, Governor Christie noted, “By signing Pamela’s Law, we are continuing to address the real world impact of these so-called ‘bath salt’ designer drugs that have already negatively impacted the lives of too many New Jerseyans. These chemicals have no valid medical use and can only cause life-threatening harm to those who ingest them. This action, coupled with our efforts statewide to raise awareness of the dangers of these and other drugs, will give law enforcement the tools they need to properly address the proliferation of these drugs and help us to ensure that needless and senseless additional damage is not caused to families in our state.”

These designer drugs, labeled as "bath salts," have been associated with intense, severe side effects that have led to suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation, and violent outbursts. They are frequently marketed as “cocaine substitutes” and recently had been available for purchase on the internet and in retail establishments such as gas stations, convenience stores, and smoke shops. Unlike other legitimate substances that are misused to produce a high, like glue or gasoline, these “bath salts” have no other legitimate purpose other than as a synthetic drug.

The new law makes the following chemicals Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS):

·         3,4 – Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)
·         4 – Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone, 4-MMC)
·         3,4 – Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Methylone, MDMC)
·         4 – Fluoromethcathinone (Flephedrone, 4-FMC)
·         3 – Fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC)
·         4 – Methoxymethcathinone (Methedrone, bk-PMMA, PMMC)
The contents of individual packets of designer drugs labeled as "bath salts" vary, but have generally been found to include at least one of these chemicals. The chemicals are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, which is already a Schedule I CDS under Federal law.

In April, Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, reclassified six substances to Schedule I of the “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act.” Since issuing the Order, the Division of Consumer Affairs, with the assistance of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System and local law enforcement, has been monitoring the increasing prevalence of these drugs within New Jersey. At the time of the Order, New Jersey was believed to be the third state to take expedited action classifying the six so-called "bath salts" designer drug chemicals as Schedule I CDS. SCS-2829 creates a separate statute in the NJ Criminal Code for these substances that will allow law enforcement to prevent the sale, distribution and possession of “bath salts."

SCS-2829 sponsors include Anthony R. Bucco (R-Morris), and Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Morris, Somerset), as well as Assemblymembers Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth), Jon M. Bramnick (R-Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union), Domenick DiCicco Jr. (R-Camden, Gloucester), and Nancy F. Munoz (R-Essex, Morris, Somerset, Union).

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