Bill Seeks To Increase Control Of Synthetic Analog Drugs, Impose Harsher Sentences
A bill has recently been introduced that would impose harsher sentencing on persons convicted of possessing analogs of synthetic drugs, such as opioids. These substances would also be regulated identically to existing illicit drugs.
The bill, also known as the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017, is led by Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, two members of the Judiciary Committee.
Often, people who synthesize drugs will tweak the chemical structure of a drug, which produces an analog. Analog drugs have effects virtually identical to the original, but due to the minor changes in structure, can skirt laws that are very specific regarding the chemical makeup of substances that are illegal or regulated.
It’s a convenient loophole for drug manufacturers and dealers and can help keep their profitable activities one step ahead of the law. This legislation, however, would change all that. If a drug was a found to be significantly similar to another illicit substance and exhibits a similar effect on the user, it can quickly be added to a new drug category, Schedule A.
Persons found making or dealing a Schedule A substance can incur penalties currently applied to those making or dealing Schedule III substances. This move would allow law enforcement to stop the sale and use of new synthetic substances faster and more efficiently than what they can manage presently.
The bill does not, however, criminalize possession or impose any mandatory minimum sentencing for offenders. Despite, this, the bill has it detractors, particularly those who generally oppose current drug sentencing laws in the U.S. and advocate approaching drug use as a public health concern rather than a criminal one.
Indeed, persons found manufacturing or dealing a Schedule A substance could face ten years in prison, and double that time if convicted of a second offense. Also, the Attorney General issued a memo recently that urged federal prosecuting attorneys to seek the maximum sentence whenever possible.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels