“So why have I come here to the Southern Tier? Well, first there’s been an increase, but second we want to nip it in the bud. We want to go after it before it’s too late,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D, N.Y.). Sen. Schumer came to Watkins Glen on Friday to discuss new legislation he’s spearheading in order to combat synthetic drugs.
The bill would outlaw 22 chemicals, including variants of Fentanyl, which are commonly used to make synthetic drugs like K2 and Spice. It would also give more power to the Drug Enforcement Agency so they could outlaw new chemicals as they are created.
“What our laws have done in the past is abolish specific drugs. And to make our criminal law, you have to have a bright line test, so they say, ‘Here’s what chemical is,’ so then they (chemical producers) change it a little, yet it has the same effect,” said Sen. Schumer.
The bill could be a step in the right direction from the law enforcement’s perspective in order to combat an issue which commonly hides in the shadows.
“They send (the) blood to the lab, and there’s nothing in it. So we know that under these instances that it’s got to be either K2, or Spice, or the bath salts. But our New York State Crime Lab doesn’t test for that, they can’t test for that,” said Schuyler County DA Joe Fazzary. The situation Fazzary is describing is an instance when someone is pulled over for being intoxicated, yet little-to-no trace of alcohol or another drug are present.
And for both the law enforcement and lawmakers, passing the bill could also help prevent the next wave of fatal drug encounters.
“We saw it with prescription drugs a few years ago, opioids, how things could grow and grow quickly. Then opioid addiction sort of crossed over into heroin addiction which we have beaten back pretty well. So you don’t want to let that happen with these synthetic drugs which are on the increase right now,” said Schumer.
Sen. Schumer says the bill has bipartisan support in the Senate, and he hopes to have it passed sometime in Sept.