ST. PAUL, MINN. – A bill that fights to keep synthetic drugs off the streets by increasing the Board of Pharmacy’s power was included in the Senate’s omnibus HHS bill and passed by the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 49 to 9. Sen. Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) authored the synthetic drug legislation in the Senate and worked alongside Rep. Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) in the House to put together the bill.
“Both Rep. Simonson and I are intimately familiar with the synthetic drug problem in Duluth and greater Minnesota. We wanted to come up with a stronger solution that gives the Board of Pharmacy the authority to issue ‘cease and desist’ orders to businesses or people violating the law. I look forward to Minnesotans being safer because of this legislation, and give Rep. Simonson a lot of credit for his significant work on this issue,” said Sen. Reinert.
The bill came in response to many cities across the state, including Duluth, not having enough authority to stop retail shops from selling synthetic drugs that have the effects of illegal drugs. The well-known Duluth head shop Last Place on Earth became a national symbol of the problem. The owner of that shop, Jim Carlson, is now in jail.
Portions of this bill came about following recommendations from the House’s Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs, which Rep. Simonson chaired. Highlights from the bill include changing the definition of ‘drug’ in statute which is amended to capture the synthetic drugs without targeting legal products. In addition to giving the Board of Pharmacy ‘cease and desist’ authority the bill also makes explicit that the sale of these drugs is illegal. Finally, the Board is able to add various compositions of synthetic drugs to the schedule and then seek legislative approval when the Legislature is next in session.