The Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act would make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of “analogue” drugs, which are synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs
Current law makes it difficult to prosecute new synthetic drugs as analogues because they are often labeled as “not intended for human consumption” despite their well-known use as recreational drugs with dangerous side effects
WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced that her bipartisan legislation to help fight synthetic drugs passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act, which Klobuchar introduced with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of “analogue” drugs, which are synthetic substances that are substantially similar to illegal drugs. Synthetic drugs have become a major problem in communities across the country. In Minnesota, there were an estimated 694 deaths from opioids and other drug overdoses in 2017—including a 74 percent increase from the previous year in deaths involving synthetic opioids. Current law makes it difficult to prosecute the sale and distribution of new synthetic drugs as analogues because they are often labeled as “not intended for human consumption” despite their well-known use as recreational drugs with dangerous side effects. The SALTS Act would make it easier for prosecutors to prove that synthetic drugs are intended for human consumption.
“The passage of my bipartisan legislation is an important step toward giving law enforcement agencies the tools they need to combat new synthetic drugs the minute they enter the market,” Klobuchar said. “It closes a loophole that allows drug dealers to skirt the law by pretending that these dangerous drugs are not intended for human consumption, when really they’re placing lives in danger every day. It should receive a vote before the full Senate as soon as possible.”
The SALTS Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow for consideration of a number of factors when determining whether a controlled substance analogue was intended for human consumption, including the marketing, advertising, and labeling of a substance, and its known use. The bill also provides that evidence that a substance was not marketed, advertised, or labeled for human consumption, by itself, is not sufficient to establish that the substance was not intended for human consumption.
The legislation is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police and the National District Attorneys Association.
The legislation is cosponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ed Markey (D-MA), John Kennedy (R-LA) and Tina Smith (D-MN).
During her time in the Senate, Klobuchar has been a leader in the effort to ban harmful chemicals in synthetic drugs that have taken lives and injured many others. In 2014, a resolution she wrote to promote awareness among youth about the dangers of synthetic drugs passed the Senate. In 2012, her provisions outlawing harmful synthetic substances such as 2C-E, which led to the death of a Minnesota teenager and hospitalized several others, were passed into law as part of the larger Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act.