The U.S. Senate has passed a resolution co-sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa designating this week as National Youth Synthetic Drug Awareness Week.
“Congress and law enforcement work to get synthetic drugs off the streets but cynical manufacturers work all the time to put out new varieties,” Grassley said. “Public awareness is a large part of prevention. A product sold in a store or online isn’t necessarily safe and might be far from it. These drugs have had tragic consequences in Iowa. People should know the consequences and stay away from these products.”
Grassley co-sponsored the resolution with Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. These states, like Iowa, have had problems with synthetic drugs. Grassley, Klobuchar and other senators worked toward the enactment of the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, banning many iterations of synthetic drugs, including one associated with the death of an 18-year-old Iowan named David Rozga.
New versions of the drug emerge regularly, leaving the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to ban the new compounds using its administrative authority. Included among these drugs is a compound called “5F-PB-22,” which was blamed for the deaths of three young Iowans last year. 5F-PB-22 is officially banned, or scheduled, under DEA procedures. The final rule went into effect earlier this month.
Grassley is Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control.
The text of the resolution is available here. Grassley’s floor statement on the resolution can be found here.
DES MOINES – A new synthetic drug compound has been identified as being involved in three separate deaths of young Iowans, according to authorities. The Iowa Poison Control Center says the three deaths occurred in 2013, and were recently reported as involving the new synthetic cannabinoid known as 5F-PB-22.
“This tragic news demonstrates once again the degree to which these quick-changing products are unsafe, and the importance of educating our youth about their dangers,” said Steve Lukan, Director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy.
“Even though state and federal officials have strengthened laws to protect Iowans from dozens of different synthetic drug types, makers of these poisonous products keep skirting the law,” said Lukan. “For now the best defense against synthetic drugs is prevention, which means parents talking with children and other forms of education to help young Iowans make safe choices.”
One week ago, the DEA took emergency action to temporarily ban four new synthetic cannabinoids, including the 5F-PB-22 compound, at the federal level. The DEA is also expected to act soon to temporarily ban an additional ten new synthetic cathinones federally. The Board of Pharmacy is working with state officials to follow suit in Iowa.
“We will continue using all available means to protect Iowans from these elusive drugs and their dealers,” said Lukan. “The important message for young Iowans is that even though some new synthetic drug products may still be sold by a few stores, the contents of those packages can be very dangerous, and even deadly.”
For more information on what synthetic drugs look like, symptoms of their use, other warning signs, and how to get help, go to the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy website at http://www.iowa.gov/odcp.