PDT Staff Writer
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Ohio State Board of Pharmacy Executive Director Kyle Parker announced Friday that a proposed administrative rule will be presented to Ohio Governor John Kasich and the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) in an effort to quickly ban new chemical compounds being abused as synthetic drugs.
If approved, the rule would allow the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy to classify the new chemical compounds, and any future compounds with a similar chemical structure, as Schedule I drugs.
“We commend all the efforts and assistance from the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy to protect the health and safety of Ohio’s families in this fight against synthetic narcotics,” DeWine said. “In the past, criminal chemists have been able to bypass Ohio’s laws by slightly modifying the chemical compounds of banned synthetic drugs, but this new rule will also ban future alterations.”
Parker said he appreciated what can be accomplished when working together.
“This is an excellent example of what extraordinary work can be accomplished when two agencies work together to combat a public health crisis,” Parker said. “We look forward to continuing this partnership and including even more government agencies and officials to make Ohio a safer and better place.”
Scioto County found itself involved in the synthetic drug scene early on.
In 2012 officers from the Portsmouth Police Department executed a search warrant at Judah’s Jams, 1020 Clay St., Portsmouth, following an investigation in the sale of bath salts. Police said the search revealed evidence of the sale of illegal bath salts and more than 100 containers of synthetic marijuana. Officers also confiscated a .40-caliber handgun, pirated music CDs and counterfeit clothing and purses.
Five-thousand packages or containers of suspected bath salts and suspected synthetic marijuana, 186 oxycodone 30-milligram tablets, 84 oxycodone 15-milligram tablets, 76 Xanax pills, 84 Klonopin pills and more than $34,000 in cash was confiscated following a raid on Dark Wings Novelties Gift Shop in the Mid Town Mall at 8740 Ohio River Road in Wheelersburg.
In June, DeWine and Parker announced the partnership between their agencies in an effort to speed up the process to ban newly created synthetic drugs. Under Ohio law, the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy has the authority to classify compounds as controlled substances through the administrative rule process if the substances have a high potential for abuse. This process eliminates the need to go through the legislature each time a new synthetic drug is created.
The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy approved the proposal to create a new administrative rule after those with the Attorney General’s Office briefed them on several new synthetic drugs being submitted by local law enforcement agencies to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI&I) Laboratory.
Specifically, the proposed rule will ban PB-22 and 5F-PB-22, drugs that began surfacing in the first five months of 2013, directly following the passage of House Bill 334 in December 2012. House Bill 334 banned all synthetic drugs that existed at that time.
The board concluded that the new chemical compounds have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and lack accepted safety for use even under medical supervision.
Based on those findings, the board will present the proposed administrative rule to Governor Kasich for emergency signature. If the Governor signs the rule, it would be enacted for 90 days, pending a public comment period and final approval by JCARR.
Documented symptoms of synthetic drug use include agitation, paranoia, confusion, violence, convulsions, unconsciousness, lethargy, nervousness, erratic behavior, driving as if intoxicated, inability to stand, and slurred speech.
DeWine said he has made the fight against synthetic drugs a priority in Ohio, filing multiple consumer protection lawsuits against business owners selling the drugs as legal products. He said he has also filed nuisance abatement action against those businesses, resulting in the temporary closure of three stores so far. The Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Special Prosecutions Section have also been actively involved in multiple synthetic drug criminal cases statewide.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT