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 New drug ban gets quick use in Vermont

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PostSubject: New drug ban gets quick use in Vermont   Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:48 am






BARRE — Moments after Human Services Secretary Doug Racine signed an emergency rule making more kinds of “bath salts” and drugs like them illegal in Vermont on Friday, Barre City Police Chief Tim Bombardier walked up the street to the Insane Glass smoke shop on North Main Street on a mission to confiscate.

The signing was part of a news conference at City Hall Park in Barre and included Gov. Peter Shumlin, Barre Mayor Thomas Lauzon and Mark Depman, head of Central Vermont Medical Center’s emergency room, as well as other health and law enforcement officials.

The rule bans the sale, possession and manufacture of 32 synthetic stimulant-type drugs — widely known as “bath salts” — nine synthetic mescalines, and 45 synthetic cannabinoids or “fake marijuana.”

The emergency rule went into effect as soon as it was filed with the secretary of state minutes after Racine signed it. Bombardier did not waste any time telling the smoke shop that it was not in compliance. Bombardier said the store was known to sell variations of the synthetic drugs.

“Just so you know, you probably have a ton of stuff that is illegal to possess in Vermont,” Bombardier said to the smoke shop worker. “If it’s illegal, I want to take possession of it so you’re not ... violating the law.”

The worker took down displays and locked the doors, temporarily closing until he and the police chief could figure out what, if any, of the products the store could sell. The Barre police would keep the rest.

The drugs are being banned because they can cause hallucinations, aggressive behavior, kidney damage and even death, according to Depman.

The Shumlin administration implemented a similar but narrower emergency rule almost a year ago, and since then manufacturers of the drugs altered the chemical makeup to make them legal again. Shumlin thinks his administration has fixed that problem.

“We believe that we have figured out a way to make the rule so broad that (drugs like “bath salts”) will be illegal no matter what they mix into them for this particular purpose,” he said.

The rule puts all stimulants known as cathinones, what “bath salts” and similar drugs are categorized under, on the regulated drug list.

Shumlin said he is working on an executive order planned for August that would be even more broadly worded and ban all chemicals that are made for human consumption to achieve a “high.”

Shumlin said he wanted the manufacturers and sellers of these drugs to know that his administration would prosecute them.

“We will hunt you down,” he said.

One thing that was not clear was whether people who bought the drugs legally days ago would now be breaking the law.

“We’ll take them to court to find out,” Shumlin said, adding he believed the rule does make any possession of the newly outlawed chemicals illegal.

The emergency rule was recently approved by three boards: the Board of Pharmacy, the Board of Medical Practice and the Board of Health. The rule remains in effect for 120 days and can be renewed by going through the same three-board approval process again. The Shumlin administration said it is in the process of making the rule permanent.

Those caught possessing, selling or making the drugs could face a fine or years in prison, depending on how much they have.
source:
Rutland Herald


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