Communities throughout the Minnesota continue to feel the devastating impacts of the opioid epidemic. Monday, Senator Amy Klobuchar was in Duluth to announce steps being taken to help combat the issue.
The legislation is called SALTS or the Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances Act. Klobuchar says the act will help law enforcement more easily prosecute the sale and distribution of "analogue" drugs, synthetic substances that are similar to illegal drugs. Officials say nowadays, dealers are changing the chemical compound in drugs making it harder for them to be caught.
"Yes, you can list them as 'illegal' but sometimes what the dealers are doing is they are changing the chemical compound so that it can't be on the list and it takes too long to be on the list so it makes it easier to prosecute these cases when they change the ingredient in the drug," she said.
Sen. Kloubuchar Announces Legislation Helping Law Enforcement Curb Opioid Abuse
Lieutenant Jeff Kazel with the Duluth Police Department says this is a big step in helping their big drug trafficking cases, like one most recently this July, where they seized about 100 grams of Fentanyl, along with other 'illegal' drugs, firearms and cash.
"These are big cases. They are time-intensive, labor-intensive and financially, they cost a lot to do so having this heightened designation would be more federal funds we would be receiving to help with these types of cases were running," said Kazel.
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin agrees that it will help all the law enforcement agencies that work on these big drug busting cases like that, as well as helping to protect children.
"Today, there 800 kids in foster care in our county. Most of those are because of opioid abuse on the part of the parents," said Rubin.
Senator Klobuchar also shared the story of one Northland teen who died of a Fentanyl overdose recently.
"Fentanyl has killed a number of people in Duluth. There's been overdoses. We've got a rash of it all across the state and an increase of 70/80% in deaths from Fentanyl," said Kloubuchar.
Statewide, there were 172 deaths that involved synthetic opioids last year. Just this past week, the Cloquet Police Department reported an "alarming" increase in drug overdoses, reporting 6 overdoses last week.
SALTS is now in the Presidents hands to be signed. Klobuchar says she expects he will sign it.
During Monday's interview, she also weighed in on why she voted no to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.