DeWine announces new efforts to fight synthetic drugs

COLUMBUS, OH (Toledo News Now) - On Wednesday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced he is intensifying his efforts to fight the abuse and sale of synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and herbal incense. 

"We're making a top priority of going after the sale, use, and distribution of these drugs with all the force of the Attorney General's Office," said DeWine. 

Synthetic drugs, sold under names like "OMG," "Bizarro," "Ivory Wave," and "Vanilla Sky," are often abused by people 25 and younger. The drugs are very addictive, and the high can induce violence and extreme paranoia. They are sold in stores, as well as on the Internet, which makes people think they are safe, when they can be deadly. 

DeWine is asking retailers for help making sure illegal drugs are not sold in Ohio.

"Some store owners and employees continue to sell these drugs under the table, despite knowing how dangerous they are," explained DeWine. "Anyone who sells or distributes these drugs should be prepared for both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit."

DeWine also announced new efforts to train law enforcement officers on how to investigate synthetic drug cases, plus build cases against synthetic drug distributors in the state. The courses will be available in a few months through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy.

State lawmakers made synthetic drugs illegal in 2011. Later Wednesday, DeWine will testify in front of the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee to show his support for Substitute House Bill 334. The legislation includes a provision that would strengthen current laws banning synthetic drugs and prevent chemists from altering a drug's components in an effort to bypass the law.

"The day Gov. Kasich signs this bill into law, my agents, local law enforcement, and the Ohio Pharmacy Board will be in the field to enforce it," said DeWine. "To those who sell or distribute synthetic drugs, we will come after you. And if you're a clandestine chemist, you will not dodge this law, and you will go to jail."

The Ohio Attorney General's Office currently has 10 special prosecutors available to assist and prosecute synthetic drug cases. Those with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation are also available to assist local law enforcement with investigations and forensic analysis.

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