Texas laws fighting to keep up with synthetic drug compounds
We previously covered national attempts to stamp out synthetic drugs. Dallas-area law enforcement agencies are also concerned and are expressing frustration that they cannot prosecute sellers or manufacturers until the Texas legislature equips them to act.
Generally sold online or from "head" or "smoke" shops, synthetic drugs consist of laboratory-designed compounds that imitate the highs derived from natural substances like marijuana. Smoke shops market synthetic drugs as incense or plant food products. The drugs can have dangerous side effects -- Spice and K2 are perhaps the most notorious substances.
Despite the potential dangers, smoke shops can generally sell drugs that do not appear on controlled substance lists. In this area, the law lags behind the drug industry, preventing law enforcement agencies from cracking down on new products.
Texas prohibits drugs by banning the underlying compounds and chemicals. So whenever a particular compound attracts the legislature's attention, drug makers respond by simply going back to the drawing board to modify the substance. Given this ability to adapt and respond, Texas law cannot keep up with new drugs.
Lawmakers do prohibit new substances during every legislative session. But because the legislature only meets every other year, drug makers are able to stay ahead of this approach by redesigning their products to evade the new laws.
Some critics argue that the situation merits a fundamentally different approach.
Source: KDAF TV Dallas-Fort Worth, "Texas Lawmakers Struggle in the Fight Against 'Designer Drugs,'" Doug Magditch, Aug. 21, 2012