Wednesday night, employees at a Goshen convenience store inadvertently found themselves in the middle of the battle over synthetic drugs underway in Indiana.
The employees noticed a man in a car in the store’s parking lot smoking what they thought was marijuana. Goshen police reported the man admitted to smoking K2, a concoction of compounds that, when smoked, causes hallucinations, increased blood pressure and heart rates and sometimes agitation. Police said the man was impaired and had him transported to the hospital for treatment.
According to the compound’s inventor, organic chemist John W. Huffman as quoted in an article for LiveScience, he’s not sure how his chemistry experiment became a retail phenomenon. His guess is that someone read a book he wrote on research chemistry and began making the substance in Europe.
Whatever the source, K2, marketed as an incense or potpourri, and other synthetic drugs are popular across the country. In Indiana the problem has become a health and crime issue. The General Assembly passed a law earlier this year in an attempt to curb such substances. The law makes it illegal to possess or sell chemical products that mimic substances that have already been banned in Indiana. The bill is trying to remove the profit incentive for manufacturers and retailers who tweak chemical compounds to get around specific bans. The law is being challenged in court.
We support this big umbrella approach to combating the drug-supply chain in Indiana. Government, and society in general, has to develop legal tools to stay one step ahead of the latest drug craze to keep intoxicating substances out of the hands of youngsters, drivers and adults who abuse them.
Still, we wish the General Assembly would find the same enforcement gusto for the meth epidemic. For every instance of a teen getting high on synthetic drugs, we think there are many more instances of people becoming addicted to methamphetamine, a drug abusers can make in a can. Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are key ingredients in making meth, and the General Assembly has created a tracking process and purchase limit for sales of those substances in an attempt to control the epidemic. Yet meth makers employ friends and acquaintances to buy the ingredients in limited amounts.
We think the best way to quell local, small-batch meth manufacturing in Indiana is to require buyers of the cold medicines that contain these drugs to have a doctor’s prescription.
While we are grateful for the General Assembly’s effort to control synthetic drugs, we can’t see why that battle is being fought while the more harmful ingredients in meth are still widely available.