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[multiple] [s31] Sen. Merritt's Synthetic Drug Ban Approved by Senate Committee
Start Date: 1/29/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 1/29/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description


STATEHOUSE (Jan. 29, 2013) – A proposal by State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) to give law enforcement officers and prosecutors new tools to crack down on dangerous synthetic drugs passed the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law today with a 6-3 vote.


Senate Bill 536 proposes a new definition for synthetic drugs that does not rely on the chemical makeup of individual substances. Under the bill, the definition for “synthetic drugs” includes:


  • A substance a reasonable person would believe is a synthetic drug.
  • A substance a reasonable person would believe is being sold or purchased as a synthetic drug.
  • A substance that a person knows or should have known is intended to be consumed and that consumption is intended to cause or simulate intoxication.

 Merritt’s legislation would also alter the current definition of “intoxication” under Indiana Code to include impairment by any substance, excluding food and food ingredients, tobacco or a dietary supplement. The Hoosier state’s current definition for intoxication only includes impairment by certain substances like alcohol and controlled drugs.


Merritt said these new definitions would give law enforcement the tools necessary to prosecute synthetic drug manufacturers and dealers who are slightly changing the chemical makeup of individual substances. SB 536 would also allow police to get more impaired drivers off of Indiana roads. 


“Law enforcement officers are experiencing cases where drivers are severely impaired by unidentified synthetic drugs, but they are unable to make arrests or citations because the substances are too new to be listed in Indiana statute,” Merritt said. “We need to send a strong message to these dangerous drivers as well as to anyone who is manufacturing, selling and buying synthetic drugs in our state. These practices must and will stop.”


Merritt said his legislation would strengthen law enforcement officers’ tools against Indiana retailers who are selling synthetic drugs and look-alikes for profits. In such a situation, Merritt’s bill calls for retail merchants’ certificates to be automatically suspended for one year. A second offense would warrant a Class D Felony. Also under SB 536, the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (DCSA) and the drug nuisance statute would be strengthened in order to help the Attorney General’s office bring civil actions against retailers to stop the sale of synthetic drugs.


Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) officials support Merritt’s legislation, noting synthetic drugs pose serious health concerns.


“Thousands of users of these synthetic marijuana products are treated in emergency departments for serious health and psychological side effects, including nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, heart attacks, agitation, paranoia and hallucinations,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., chief Medical Officer for ISDH.  “The effects of these dangerous substances can be powerful, unpredictable and life-threatening.”


Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and Indiana State Police officials also support SB 536. The proposal now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.



Contact Information:
Name: Whitney Moorman
Phone: 317-232-7184
Entry Type:
Press Release
Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • Category:
  • Government
  • Agency Name
    Senate Republican Caucus

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