The Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs held a hearing recently at the Chalberg Theatre on the campus of Central Lakes College.
Reps. John Ward, DFL–Baxter, and Joe Radinovich, DFL-Crosby, attended the meeting.
The special House of Representatives Select Committee is studying the issue of the growing synthetic drug problem. Members of the special committee were appointed by House Speaker Paul Thissen.
Synthetic drugs are chemicals designed to mimic the effects of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines. However, they are completely different substances with completely different — and very dangerous — side effects.
There has been difficulty banning these drugs because the manufacturers change the chemical compounds just enough to evade the law and so quickly that the law cannot keep up. This has posed a serious threat to the health of individuals who use and safety of the community.
“We had a very informative meeting, and I want to thank folks for attending,” said Ward. “Synthetic drugs are a serious threat to public health and safety, and are causing terrible problems in our community and communities throughout the state. We will take the information from this meeting and continue working to tackle this issue.”
“The problem of synthetic drugs continues to grow,” added Radinovich. “These drugs are incredibly dangerous, and the people who make them continue to evade new laws. We have to find a long-term, comprehensive solution to this problem.”
Along with Ward, Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, serves as the committee chair with Rep. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater; Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker; and Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park also serve on the committee.
The committee watched a short film, “Ground Zero: Duluth’s Battle Against Synthetic Drugs,” before hearing from a number of testifiers: Donald F. Ryan, Crow Wing County attorney; David Hermerding, assistant Crow Wing County attorney; Deputy Chief Mike Bestul, Brainerd Police Department; Chief James Exsted, Baxter Police Department; Mary Hess, mayor of Aurora; and Peggy Kates and Loren Beilke, USA Mobile Drug Testing.
The next hearing will be this fall in the metro area.