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Klobuchar co-sponsors bipartisan bill to ban harmful chemicals used in K2

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) cosponsored bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and five other senators to ban the harmful chemicals commonly used in synthetic drugs popularly known as "K2" or "Spice."

Poison control centers and emergency rooms across the U.S. are reporting dramatic increases in the number of cases of calls and visits resulting from K2 use, with physical effects including increased agitation, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures. In addition there have been numerous reports of individuals acting violently while under the influence of the drug, leading to deaths or injuries to themselves and others.

"Theses synthetic drugs pose a serious risk, especially since they can be easily purchased online and at stores around the country," Klobuchar said. "These substances can have dangerous effects and it's important we take action to prevent harm to the public."

"People are buying this drug so easily at the local mall or online that they think it's safe," Grassley said. "The marketing is deceptive and the product is readily available, which make the drug seem harmless. It's anything but harmless. People including a young Iowan have died or been seriously injured because of this product. Congress needs to permanently control the substances used in this drug so no more lives are lost."

The Drug Enforcement Administration has banned five chemicals found in K2. However this ban will last only for one year with an option to extend the ban for an additional six months. The Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011 would impose a permanent ban on the five chemicals initially banned by the Drug Enforcement Administration, plus additional chemicals used to make the drug. The bill treats K2 like other banned narcotics such as methamphetamine and cocaine.

Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, which has jurisdiction over issues relating to drug control policy, and she has been a leader in strengthening drug safety standards to protect consumers. Last year Klobuchar introduced the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to provide patients with safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused controlled substances. The legislation, which was signed into law in October 2010, helps reduce the risk that teenagers will gain access to expired or unwanted prescription drugs in homes by permitting individuals and long-term care facilities to deliver unused drugs for safe disposal.

In addition to Klobuchar, Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) cosponsored the legislation.