New Indiana Laws

Written by Nicholas Serrano. Posted in Community News

Published on August 18, 2011 with No Comments

A new Indiana law effective July 1 bans synthetic marijuana products and also covers what appears to be the latest fad in synthetic stimulants – certain kinds of so-called bath salts that are potentially dangerous when ingested like a drug

State Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, was the bill’s author. He confirmshis Senate bill making synthetic marijuana products – like Spice – controlled substances across Indiana also covers chemical compounds found in some products labeled as bath salts but used as a mind-altering stimulant that, until now, skirted state law.

“We now have one of the strongest laws in the country concerning Spice, salvia and bath salts,” Alting said. “I hope this policy sends a strong message that these types of deceptive products are dangerous. Retailers should remove these products from their shelves and citizens who made purchases are advised to safely dispose of them.”

Certain kinds of bath salts have emerged in recent months as a substance-abuse problem rivaling Spice – the product marketed as incense but in so many cases used like marijuana. Like Spice, these mind-altering bath salts have been sold under a variety of names, including “Ivory Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Bubbles” and “Tranquility.”

Alting explained two main ingredients in these dangerous bath salts are actually powerful stimulants that can mimic illegal drugs like methamphetamine, amphetamine or ecstasy. Effects from ingesting the products this way can range from elevated heart rates, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations or even suicidal tendencies.

Nancy Beals, a prevention project coordinator for Drug Free Marion County, said the Indiana Poison Control Center reported more than 250 reports of bath salt incidents this year. Meanwhile, other sources from Fort Wayne cited hospital visits from people suffering from effects of improper bath salt usage. In Greenfield, five teens were recently arrested for robbery, allegedly to obtain money for purchasing the substances.

Nationwide, the American Association of Poison Control Centers had received 2,237 calls related to bath salt products so far this year – more than seven times the number taken during all of 2010.

“I intend to keep a close watch on this and may add more compounds to the list of illegal substances in the next legislative session,” Alting said. “I’m determined to do everything I can to protect Indiana citizens from these deceptive marketing practices and potentially life-threatening chemical substances.”

Alting’s law is also aimed at synthetic marijuana products – herbs sprayed with hallucinogenic chemicals. When smoked, these products dangerously distort perceptions and impair coordination. Local ordinances passed by some communities lack enforcement across jurisdictions and are limited to lesser penalties and fines. Police and prosecutors asked lawmakers for a statewide ban while federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials consider a nationwide prohibition. Now, these synthetic products are on the controlled substances list.

Another law effective July 1 protecting Hoosiers calls for retailers to place dissolvable tobacco products securely behind counters and away from minors. Often marketed in brightly colored, candy-like packages that can be appealing to younger consumers, dissolvable tobacco contains harmful ingredients that cause tooth decay and cancer. Penalties for giving tobacco products to minors are also strengthened by this law.

To card or not to card?

 

Retailers that sell packaged liquor will soon have more leeway. Stores won’t have to card everyone, just those who appear younger than 40 years old. That rule replaces a law enacted last July that received a lot of pushback, particularly from senior citizens suddenly required to show proof they were at least 21 years old when buying alcohol.

Another new law will allow handgun owners to transport their weapons in more instances without needing a gun license and will also pre-empt city and county restrictions on gun use and ownership.

Statewide bans on texting while driving are also part of the raft of laws that took effect. Large parts of a sweeping proposal aimed at cracking down on illegal immigrants were also set to become law, but were blocked by a federal judge on appeal.

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