Politics & Government

House passes bill banning increasingly popular synthetic drug

State Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville
State Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville

FRANKFORT — A bill that would ban the sale and use of a synthetic drug commonly sold as bath salts was passed by the state House on Friday and now heads to the Senate.

House Bill 121 would ban the substance, also sold as plant food or insect repellent, that is sending increasing numbers of people to hospital emergency rooms in Kentucky and across the country.

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, and sponsor of House Bill 121, said the substance, which is sold at many gas stations and tobacco shops, is driving longtime drug users to the emergency room in states of paranoia and severe agitation.

The bill would make manufacturing or trafficking in the substance a Class A misdemeanor. Possession would be a Class B misdemeanor.

Henry Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center, told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this week that in January alone, there have been 26 possible overdoses or emergency room visits from people who have used the substance. In 2010, there were only 17 emergency room visits.

The common names for the substance — which is made in a lab and mimics the effects of methamphetamine or cocaine — are Dove, Hurricane Charlie and White Lightning.

The House ultimately voted 94-0 to approve House Bill 121.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Tom Jensen, R-London, said he had not read House Bill 121 but he expected little resistance to the bill in the Senate. A similar bill to ban synthetic marijuana, commonly called "K2" or "Spice," was passed by both houses in the last legislative session.