Paul Thissen wants to crack down on synthetic drugs

Paul Thissen wants to crack down on synthetic drugs
Synthetic drugs are a perennial target in the Legislature.

Synthetic drugs are already illegal in Minnesota, but lawmakers believe there's more work to be done to "combat the spread of the sale" of these and other controlled substances across the state.

House Speaker Paul Thissen, D-Minneapolis, announced this week he's starting a committee to study the issue and recommend policies next legislative session.

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"Drug abuse is a serious public health issue facing Minnesota and it is rapidly evolving," says Thissen in a statement. "This committee will examine the misuse of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and synthetic drugs."

Synthetic drugs have been a perennial target of the Legislature in recent years, beginning with Rep. Joe Atkins's campaign against Salvia in 2008 (a campaign that inspired City Pages' Matt Snyders to volunteer himself as a guinea pig). Then it was K2, bath salts, and other designer psychedelics.

Earlier this year, Rep. Erik Simonson, D-Duluth, introduced a bill to broaden the ban on synthetics to products that could mirror the effects of drugs and appear to be marketed toward human consumption. The bill didn't get much traction, but Simonson is chairing Thissen's committee, so he'll help craft whatever bills come up in the next legislative session.

Minnesota Attornery General Lori Swanson will also hold a public hearing in Duluth on June 7 on synthetic drug abuse.

"Synthetic drug abuse and the misuse of controlled substances are very real threats to public safety and the public's health," says Simonson in the committee announcement. "I look forward to working together in a bipartisan manner to explore these issues and propose policy solutions."

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