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Shaheen cosponsors bipartisan bill to combat dangerous synthetic drugs

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today the approval of Drug Free Communities (DFC) Support Program funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to address New Hampshire’s heroin and prescription drug epidemic as well as her cosponsorship of bipartisan legislation to combat synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances and circumvent existing federal drug laws. Communities throughout New Hampshire will receive DFC funding support, which Shaheen had called for earlier this year to educate about the dangers of drug abuse to ultimately reduce youth substance use.

“We’ve seen communities across our state struggle to address growing substance abuse problems that have reached epidemic proportions,” Shaheen said. “I’ve been working closely with the people on the front lines in New Hampshire who are fighting heroin and prescription drug addiction and we know that one of the key ingredients toward combating this problem is through locally empowered programs like DFC.”

Shaheen has been working to aggressively to stem New Hampshire’s growing heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic, calling for investments and support for key programs to assist local law enforcement and healthcare providers to appropriately combat what has become a top public health issue in the Granite State.

Earlier this year, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously adopted several provisions Shaheen proposed and were a direct result of her outreach with federal, state and local officials along with public health and treatment professionals. Shaheen has held three roundtables with law enforcement representatives and public health experts in New Hampshire to identify solutions that the federal government can implement, with the help of local and state resources, to combat the state’s growing problem, and her appropriations requests were developed through dialogue she initiated with state officials and stakeholders.

The Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act Shaheen is cosponsoring will confront the dangerous rise of synthetic drugs designed to mimic the effects of controlled substances, which led to more than 50 reported overdoses in Manchester last month and a declared state of emergency from Governor Maggie Hassan. The bipartisan bill would make it easier to prohibit dangerous synthetic drugs, such as synthetic cannabinoids known as ‘‘spice,’’ which are chemically engineered substances similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, or other already-prohibited controlled substance analogues.

“Synthetic drugs have created a serious health threat, and we need to treat them like the dangerous substances they are,” Shaheen said. “Spice has already led to serious medical situations for a number of young people in New Hampshire, and this bill gives law enforcement officials the tools to crack down on unregulated synthetic drugs.”

Specifically, the Protecting Our Youth from Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Act:

  • Establishes an inter-agency committee of scientists headed by the Drug Enforcement Administration and responsible for establishing and maintaining an administrative list of controlled substance analogues.
  • Makes it illegal to import a controlled substance analogue unless the importation is intended for non-human use.
  • Directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review, and if appropriate, amend the federal sentencing guidelines for violations of the Controlled Substances Act pertaining to controlled substance analogues.