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Friday, October 2, 2015

House Approves Baker Bill to Stem the Tide of Dangerous New Substances Used to Manufacture Illegal Drugs

HARRISBURG – As part of continuing action to combat the nation’s growing drug epidemic, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved legislation authored by Rep. Matt Baker (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter), chairman of the House Health Committee, to empower the secretary of the Department of Health to add new substances to the list of controlled substances used to manufacture illegal drugs.

“My legislation would enable the secretary of Health to act more quickly so law enforcement can take swift action when new illicit drugs hit the streets,” said Baker. “Those who are manufacturing these drug cocktails are often using legal, common substances in new ways that leads to tragic and, sometimes, deadly outcomes for those who are using them. House Bill 608 would enable law enforcement to keep up with the quickly changing illegal drug market and empower them to prosecute those who possess these substances with the intent to manufacture illegal drugs.”

House Bill 608 would permit the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health to ban substances temporarily, pending full regulatory review, when there is an imminent hazard to public health. Currently, banning a substance under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act requires an act of the General Assembly, which can often be time consuming.

“Criminals adapt quickly to making the changes necessary to continue their illegal activities and often stay ahead of law enforcement’s efforts,” said Baker. “This legislation would make it harder for these criminals to circumnavigate the legal system and help bring them to justice. This is an important step in order to stem the tide of illegal drugs being manufactured in kitchens and basements all across the state. We need to be more adaptable and aggressive if we are to keep pace with today’s illegal drug manufacturers.”

The legislation also would make changes to the current schedule of controlled substances in order to update the Commonwealth’s schedules to reflect the federal controlled substance laws.

This is the second time Baker has introduced this legislation. In 2013, it passed the House but was never acted upon by the Senate. House Bill 608 has the support of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Fraternal Order of Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Association and the state Office of Attorney General.

House Bill 608 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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