Legislators Trying to Ban Synthetic Drugs Face Uphill Battle
Sen. Kevin Meyer, a Republican from Anchorage, was one of the sponsors of a law last spring that banned a number of cathinones, the chemical name for bath salts.
While writing the bill, he said there was discussion of writing a broader bill that criminalized drugs that are similar to existing illegal drugs. But such a broad regulation could have un-intended consequence.
“A blanket law outlawing a whole group of substances could inadvertently outlaw chemicals and substances that are used legally and regularly,” he stated in an email last week. “Long story short, we can’t ban or regulate everything — but if government has to get involved, it should be specific because too broad of a ban can have far-reaching unintended consequences.”
Even without an outright ban of these products, the Legislature can help tackle the public safety risk by calling attention to the dangers they present, Meyer said.
Federal laws banning specific drugs also become obsolete not long after they pass, but federal prosecutors have an aggressive anti-drug law known as the Federal Analogue Act that gives prosecutors authority to target products that are similar to illegal drugs. It’s been used to target sellers of potpourri in other states, though not in Alaska.