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R.I. AG's legislation banning certain synthetic drugs signed into law

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Jul 17, 2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) -- Synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones will be place on a highly-regulated Schedule I drug list under legislation backed by Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and signed into law this week.

The drugs' manufacture, sale and use in the state also will be banned under the new law.

Often referred to or marketed as "synthetic pot," "herbal incense," "spice" and "bath salts," the drugs are much more dangerous than their naturally-occurring counterparts, the attorney general says.

Unlike the drugs they try to mimic, synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones have been known to cause people to become violent or delirious, and can cause high blood pressure, vomiting and a number of deadly health complications.

Signed into law by Gov. Lincoln Chafee were two companion bills -- Senate Bill 2013-S 0454A, introduced by Sen. Stephen Archambault, and House Bill 2013-H 5325A, sponsored by Rep. Joseph McNamara.

Both bills were introduced at the request of Kilmartin.

"The growing availability and use of synthetic drugs in our society, especially among young people, is alarming and deadly," the attorney general said in a statement Tuesday.

"Synthetic drugs are the new frontier in the war on drugs and we must provide law enforcement with the tools to effectively prosecute those who manufacture, distribute and possess the drugs and chemical compounds."

Last year, the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 16 cases of serious kidney damage caused by synthetic cannabis products, none of which were deadly but five of which required dialysis.

Additionally, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that in 2010 there were nearly 3,000 calls to poison control centers in the U.S. for exposure to synthetic cannabis.

This number ballooned to 7,000 calls in 2011 before a number of states started banning the drugs, decreasing the number of calls to 5,200 in 2012.

With Chafee's signature, the ban on the substances takes immediate effect.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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