(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, joined by administration officials and members of the DC Council, signed the “Sale of Synthetic Drugs Emergency Amendment Act of 2015” into law. This law will combat the use and sale of synthetic drugs throughout the city by authorizing law enforcement and regulatory officials to take swifter and stronger action against bad acting businesses that sell these illegal products. The law significantly increases the penalties for any business found to be selling synthetic drugs.
“I have issued a fair warning to business owners who continue to sell and distribute these dangerous drugs” said Mayor Bowser. “The new law takes a 'two strikes and you’re out' approach. Beginning today, any business that possesses synthetic drugs will face harsh penalties for the first offense and will lose their license after a second offense. I thank the Council for their swift action and residents from all eight wards for strongly supporting this legislation to crack down on the sale of these drugs.”
The new law states that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) now has the authority to shut down a first-offender for up to 96 hours, with a $10,000 fine for its first violation. MPD has also been given the authority to shut down repeat offenders for up to 30 days, with a $20,000 fine, while the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) will move to permanently revoke its license.
“The entire community has been impacted by the increase in availability of these drugs. Our message today is clear: If you are selling synthetic drugs in this city, we are going to shut you down," said Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Synthetic drugs are potent hallucinogens which have been found for sale at some retail establishments, such as liquor stores and gas stations in the District. They are often referred to as synthetic marijuana and frequently packaged under brand names such as K2, Scooby Snax, Bizzaro, or Spice.
“Synthetic drugs have no place in District businesses. Stores that profit from the pain and suffering of their customers by selling synthetic drugs will forfeit the opportunity to do business here,” said DCRA Director Melinda Bolling.
The side effects of these drugs are severe and may include seizures, suicidal behavior, erratic and violent behavior, and even death. These drugs can render a person to be incoherent, disorderly, aggressive, and unconscious.
“Synthetic drugs are not only illegal, they are also dangerous to one’s health and can cause life-threatening reactions. We are working with District of Columbia hospitals to better understand the demographics of synthetic drug usage so that we can target resources to reduce the negative impact of these drugs on our community,” said Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.
Mayor Bowser and city officials are hopeful to see a drop in synthetic drug overdoses throughout the city following the signing of this legislation into law.
Businesses can show their support for their community by signing a pledge, available at wepledge.dc.gov. Shortly after a business signs, DCRA will provide a sticker that the business can display. The sticker will let the community know that the store is synthetic drugs free.