A prominent state legislator and the state health board are ready to enact stiffer regulations on over-the-counter synthetic drugs. And both say they are stymied by state and federal red tape
State Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler says the concern of his constituents has reached a quote “fever pitch” and he wants fast action on the banning of bath salts and synthetic marijuana, which are sold in convenience stores. Read our previous story.
“I’m not a patient person by nature, and this issue is frustrating to me, that why didn’t DHEC take up this issue last week. Time is of the essence and when I talked with the folks they said they were waiting on the feds, they are in communication with SLED, there is a difference between emergency scheduling versus emergency regulation,” says Peeler.” I just want to get this synthetic marijuana and bath salts off the street.”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) says it must wait for the DEA to deal with re-classifying (known as rescheduling) three key ingredients in “bath salts” — as street name that has nothing to do with health and beauty products. A DEA spokesperson told SCRN that they must also wait on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tests and input.
The death of an Anderson University basketball state, caused by synthetic marijuana has put the spotlight on this substance as well.
While Peeler wants to see that substance banned, however – it’s not on the DHEC radar right now, says Myrick. “There are three specific substances that are going to be published to the Federal Register that the board will vote to make Schedule 1 controlled substances in the state and my understanding that does not include what is known as synthetic marijuana,” he explains.
When the federal government makes it a health threat, by state law that empowers DHEC to do the same. Then the State Law Enforcement Division can step in and prosecute these cases.
Senator Peeler says he now sees local government immediately handling this through ordinances. He says he thinks there could be a temporary way to ban the substances while the federal government works toward re-classifying these synthetic chemicals.
“It’s a shame that we can’t address this statewide; North Carolina has, Georgia has, seems like we can,” says Peeler.
If all else fails, the Senate Majority Leader says he will push to make it illegal in the Legislature, which reconvenes in mid-January.
He adds, “It concerns me about the life and property that is at risk between now and January.”