Shipley bill clarifies, updates last year's synthetic drug legislation

Hank Hayes • Jan 19, 2013 at 9:18 AM

A so-called “Synthetics 2.0” bill has been introduced by Tennessee state Rep. Tony Shipley to update measures enacted last year to prosecute synthetic drug sellers and users.

Shipley’s legislation is a technical corrections bill clarifying the definition of an “analogue controlled substance” and adds new drugs and compounds to a list of synthetic cannabinoids covered in the law.

“We have been working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation over the last six months, and are confident this drug ingredient update will help us stay ahead of the bad guys,” Shipley, R-Kingsport, said in a prepared release.

Tri-Cities municipal governments, including Kingsport’s, had asked for clean-up language and other new definitions in the law in their legislative wish list recently submitted to lawmakers.

Shipley and state Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, both passed bills last year making synthetic drug sellers and makers face felony jail time and fines up to $5,000.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration included more than $300,000 in the current state budget to pay for incarceration expenses in the law. Those expenses were based on more than 60 people going into the Department of Corrections for a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance offense in each of the past 10 years.

State law now addresses both synthetic marijuana and bath salts similar to controlled substances, and also allows authorities to declare synthetic drug businesses as a public nuisance.

“As manufacturers of these harmful drugs find creative new ways to beat the system, I am committed to leading the charge in ensuring law enforcement officials across our state are always one step ahead of those who profit and use these illegal substances,” Shipley added.

Shipley was recently named by House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, to chair the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 45 states and Puerto Rico have already banned two classes of synthetic drugs: Synthetic cannabinoids (“Spice” or “K2”) and substituted cathinones (“bath salts”).

For more, go to www.capitol.tn.gov. Shipley’s bill is HB 0012.

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