Highland News Leader

Illinois Senate approves bill targeting synthetic drugs

The Illinois Senate OKed a new tactic last week to combat dangerous synthetic or designer street drugs.

Senate Bill 1129, which the chamber passed on Thursday last week, targets the drugs in a way that is unique from past attempts to make them illegal. The new legislation targets the basic chemical structure of the drugs.

“The legal definition has been bypassed many times by one change in the formula to produce the new drug,” said Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon, who sponsored the bill. “What this bill does is make the entire chemical structure illegal, which gets in front of all the future variations of the synthetics known as ‘cannabinoids’ and ‘cathinones’ and makes them illegal.”

Sen. McCarter said, if SB1129 is eventually approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor, it will be one of the toughest laws of any state in the nation. The legislation is based in part on a similar law passed in Rhode Island in 2013.

Synthetic drugs are commonly known by names such as K-2, Spice, Yucatan Fire and others. They often can be purchased at convenience stores as an over-the-counter product.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabinoids and cathinones are synthetic versions of marijuana, but with more severe and dangerous consequences including seizures, hallucinations and death.