Rep. John Katko renews legislative effort to crack down on synthetic drugs

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., questions Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor as he testifies before a House Committee on Homeland Security meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, on the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

U.S. Rep. John Katko is attempting again to advance legislation that would address the surge of synthetic drugs in central New York and the United States. 

Katko, R-Camillus, on Wednesday reintroduced the Stop the Importation and Manufacturing of Synthetic Analogues Act. The goal of the bill is to combat the alteration of chemicals in controlled substances that aim to circumvent U.S. laws. 

When the makeup is changed by drugmakers, many of which import their products from China and Mexico, they technically create a new drug that isn’t on the federal schedule under the Controlled Substances Act. Before being placed on a schedule, there are usually analyses done to determine how the controlled substance should be regulated. 

That would change under Katko’s bill. The measure would allow for the creation of a new schedule, Schedule A, for synthetic drugs with similar chemical structures as existing controlled substances. A synthetic drug could be temporarily added to the new schedule pending a review of its chemical composition. After that examination, the federal government can determine whether there should be permanent regulations. 

Katko first introduced the bill in 2017 after hearing from central New Yorkers affected by synthetic drug use. His legislation received support from Frank Fowler, who was the Syracuse police chief at the time, and other law enforcement leaders. 

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