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A good reason to be in the Legislature

Last summer a newspaper article about an addictive substance called “bath salts” caught my eye.

I had never heard of this drug.

The story was accompanied by a photograph of a woman, Jennifer Adair, who was picketing outside a business that sells these “bath salts,” also called “red rocket,” on the street. Ms. Adair was protesting because she had discovered that her 14-year-old daughter had been smoking and snorting “bath salts,” resulting in a complete change in personality; one from a clean cut teen to one that was aggressive and violent, with no care about her appearance. Most people compare it to methamphetamine, and it is legal in Colorado. In my opinion it absolutely should not be legal.

This got my attention, and I put it on my list of things that I wanted to look into at the Legislature. Upon some inquiry, I found that Sen. Joyce Foster, Democrat from Denver, was going to run a bill addressing the issue. I also found that Rep. Bob Gardner, Republican from Colorado Springs, was going to run a competing bill to make “bath salts” illegal.

I talked with Sen. Foster about running her bill in the House, and she was very excited that I knew about the issue and was grateful to have a Republican sponsor in the House. In the meantime, Rep. Gardner decided not to run his bill and was very supportive of my sponsoring Sen. Foster’s bill. (I have learned that it is very important to make sure that I touch bases with all involved to make sure that I don’t step on anyone’s toes or interfere with their territory. I’ll have enough disagreements without looking for them.)

The bill, SB116, is making its way through the Senate at this time and has been assigned to the Senate Local Government Committee where it was approved unanimously on Feb. 21.

A press release on the bill stated that Sen. Joyce Foster, D-Denver, and Rep. J. Paul Brown R-Ignacio, are leading a bipartisan effort in the state Legislature to make it illegal to possess, use, distribute or manufacture the designer drug sold under the label “bath salts.” The Cathinone-based drug has been reported to mimic the effects of drugs like cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine, and is currently legal in Colorado. Despite the Drug Enforcement Agency’s recent ban, and at least 28 states outlawing the substance, the drug is still being sold in Colorado businesses to a target market of teens and young adults. SB116 defines the drug and establishes criminal penalties for use or possession, as well as manufacturing and distribution of cathinones.

“This is an extremely dangerous drug that has been shown to have devastating impacts on the lives of Colorado’s youth. Because it is legal, it is perceived as safe. In no time they are hooked and showing signs of paranoia, delusions, aggression and even suicidal thoughts,” said professional psychologist Toni Anker.

This is a good bill and a good reason to be in the Colorado Legislature.

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