The Rutherford County Steering and Legislative Committee voted unanimously Monday to forward a recommendation to local delegation in hopes that a bill will be sponsored making the sale and abuse of synthetic drugs a felony.
Drug Court Director Mary Schneider initially presented the issue to the Public Safety Committee last week after Commissioner Matthew Young (Dist.16) asked about the prevalence of synthetic drugs in individuals currently attending drug court programs.
“Everybody I’ve interviewed for drug court lately, I’ve asked them that question. Are you using synthetics and only one person told me no,” Schneider told the Public Safety Committee.
Synthetic drugs have become popular among some young adults and teenagers because they are readily available and can be purchased in a convenience store under the guise of Molly's Plant Food or bath salts.
The drugs can resemble the effects of cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, and other narcotics. Because the drugs are fairly new, states have been slow to enact laws regulating the sale and use of them.
Tennessee passed a law in May making the sale of synthetic drugs a misdemeanor, but many county officials think the law isn’t working and should be a felony.
Murfreesboro Detective Greg Flanagan attended the meeting to discuss the problem of synthetic drugs in Rutherford County.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve seen an increase in the abuse of synthetic drugs. If your child overdoses on this stuff, it’s in the lord’s hands,” Flanagan told commissioners.
Flanagan further explained that doctors are highly concerned about the drugs because they don’t know what they are.
“There is no antidote for this stuff. The doctors are scared because they don’t know what the long term effects are with the abuse of these drugs,” Flanagan said.
Members of the committee discussed attacking the issue with those who sell synthetic drugs. The Rutherford County Sheriffs Office and Murfreesboro City Police Department have recently conducted raids on local convenience stores selling the drugs. For many of the convenience stores, the raids did little to deter them from selling.
“It’s the convenience stores, I mean you can go to your local convenience store and even after the raids they’re still selling it,” Schneider said. “They’re in it for the bucks.”
Flanagan argued that the rewards outweigh the costs for many people selling the products because of its misdemeanor status. The store owner can post bail, pay a fine, and go back to selling plant food for $20 or $30 dollars a package.
“If we don’t make the risk greater than the reward then we’re fighting a losing battle,” Flanagan said.
The committee briefly discussed making a law in Rutherford County that suspends or terminates a beer license for any business involved in the sale of synthetic drugs. Several committee members were interested, but the committee did not explore that suggestion further.
Commissioner Gary Farley (Dist. 7) did agree that Rutherford County needs to do something to deter businesses from selling.
“We’ve got to put teeth into the law,” Farley said.
Flanagan also discussed that much of what is being done to combat the issue is educating children.
“We are having people who have had problems with this go in and talk to the kids,” Flanagan said.
Murfreesboro Detective Lt. Egon Grissom was also in attendance at the meeting and argued that parents need just as much education as the kids.
“The kids already know, it’s the parents that don’t know,” Grissom told the committee.
Grissom informed members that synthetic drugs are not like marijuana, which is comprised of an anti-psychotic element in its natural form.
“These are psychoactive drugs. That’s why it’s on the radar. It’s not that people are getting high from it, they’re getting crazy from it,” Grissom said.
Committee members agreed it was necessary to contact the state legislature and get the support of surrounding counties in order to fight for felony status of synthetic drugs.
“I think this is serious enough and Rutherford County has always been a leader when it comes to the state and getting stuff done,” Farley said.
By: postlooker22 on 12/14/11
All these new synthetic drugs out now make the 100% natural Marijauna look even worse. I challenge someone to write a story about the side effects of weed. Let us see if someone has heart issues.