Today the House of Representatives approved a bill aimed at banning imitation speed (a.k.a. "bath salts") and ersatz pot (a.k.a. K2 and spice). The Drug Enforcement Administration already has banned three compounds used in fake speed and five used in fake pot, but the Synthetic Drug Control Act adds a bunch more. It covers 15 specific stimulants, 15 specific synthetic cannabinoids, and other "cannabimimetic agents." The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), explained the rationale for adding dozens of additional substances to the list of enemies in the war on drugs:
These substances pose a substantial risk, both to the physical health of the user as well as to the safety of those around them. These drugs contribute to dangerous, psychotic behavior, suicide and public endangerment. The fact that they are legal has the misconception they are safe and brand names and logos on the packaging promotes the concept of a consistent product.
I have read the press reports of young people who have been harmed by these substances and others and I'm very sympathetic, but we shouldn't legislate on the basis of this evidence. It is a shoot first, ask questions later [policy] that we have taken in this country for decades. Our national drug policy should be driven by science, not politics.