House Bill 12 (click for full text) is one step close to passage. The Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice sent the measure, introduced by Rep. Ricky Templet, R-Gretna, to the House floor for debate.
Besides banning the sale, manufacture or possession of “bath salts”, the bill also rewrites a law passed last year that bans the sale of synthetic marijuana. Last year a law took effect in Louisiana that banned four popular chemicals used to make fake pot. The Drug Enforcement Administration also banned a total of five substances nationwide. But manufacturers quickly reacted to the laws, and to avoid prosecution, came up with a different formulations for the synthetic ingredients which had a marijuana-like effect, but that were not banned.
Templet said that his bill this year is designed to criminalize “entire groups” of chemicals that could be used to make the pseudo-marijuana and the bath salts. By expanding the law, Templet said, all of the groups of ingredients used to make the fake marijuana and the bath salts would be banned. [Author’s note: Whether this law would ban all possible ingredients that could be used to make synthetic marijuana is not clear. I have consulted a biochemist about this issue because the answer depends on a fairly in-depth analysis of the molecular structure of various compounds.]
Under the proposed law, the penalties for making, possessing or selling the bath salts would be the same as making, possessing or selling cocaine and other Schedule I drugs. Presumably the penalties for possession, manufacture and sale of synthetic marijuana would be the same as regular marijuana, although this new bill (unlike the old one it would replace) is silent as to the inclusion of synthetic marijuana in the existing sentencing structure for marijuana.