NEW YORK, NY – Senator Jeffrey D. Klein, (D-Bronx/ Westchester), joined by renown cardiothoracic surgeon, author and talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz announced legislation Tuesday that would ban a dangerous new kind of synthetic drug that has caused hospitalizations and deaths across the country.
These designer drugs, chemically formulated to mimic the effects of Ecstasy, LSD, Ketamine, and other controlled substances are currently unregulated and readily available over the Internet.
The substances, which are sold in bright, shiny, packaging, and marketed under names like “Gogaine,” “Dust Till Dawn,” Pink Panther, and –even– “Charly Sheen,” are clearly being aimed at teens and young adults. An investigation by Senator Klein’s office, however, found that sellers often refer to these drugs as “research chemicals,” or “plant food,” and include a label warning against human consumption in an attempt to conceal the true use of these synthetic compounds.
“No one is fooled by the cynical attempt of these sellers to mask the fact that they are online drug dealers who target young people,” said Senator Klein, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. “These drugs are deadly, unrestricted, and one click away from becoming the next public health crisis in New York. My legislation will ban these dangerous substances today in order to prevent more tragedies tomorrow. ”
Senator Klein was spurred to investigate the availability of this new class of designer drugs in New York following a November 2011 report on the “Dr. Oz Show.” The program focused on incidents in Oklahoma and Minnesota, where three young adults died and others were hospitalized as a result of ingesting these unregulated compounds.
“We must protect adolescents from dangers such as these new synthetic chemicals which present parents and police with unique challenges – mainly that they are available through the immediate, safe and anonymous pathway of the internet and that without any laws governing their sale enjoy immunity from law enforcement. In the fall I did yet another show trying to educate viewers on what this dangerous stuff was and what to look for. I had parents on my show who live with unspeakable sorrow after their children were hurt by these legal chemicals. Their nightmare shall never be repeated by the legislation proposed today,” said Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of the nationally syndicated Dr. Oz Show.
Senator Klein's legislation, (S.7009) will crack down on these illegal drug substitutes by reclassifying 16 popular “research chemicals” as Schedule I controlled substances. If enacted into law, possession and sales of these chemicals will be prosecuted in the same manner as other illegal drugs.
As part of the probe, Senator Klein's office was able to purchase several of these “brands” of chemicals and have them shipped to a private residence in the Bronx. Despite their claims of being “research chemicals” many of the packages lacked any information about the drug's chemical make-up, rendering them virtually useless for research. Also, from the same Web site, Klein's office was able to purchase a container, disguised as a can of tomato sauce, meant to conceal these substances.
Further details of the investigation can be found in a report, “Not For Human Consumption, Research Chemicals: The New Designer Drug Problem,” released by Klein's office.