MN House panel to tackle synthetic drugs

House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, has announced the establishment of a bipartisan committee to take on the issue of synthetic drugs.

Thissen named Rep. Erik Simonson, DFL-Duluth, to chair the panel. The Speaker’s Select Committee on Controlled Substances and Synthetic Drugs will examine drug abuse issues and will recommend policies to combat the spread of the sale of synthetic drugs across the state, according to a news release. Thissen said the committee will issue a report by February 25, 2014.

“Drug abuse is a serious public health issue facing Minnesota and it is rapidly evolving,” Thissen said. “This committee will examine the misuse of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and synthetic drugs. In the coming months, this committee will work on this issue and come back next session with recommendations to curb drug abuse and sale across the state.”

The other members of the select committee are Reps. Kathy Lohmer, R-Stillwater; Jim Newberger, R-Becker; Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park; and John Ward, DFL-Baxter.

Hearings are planned over the next few month. Committee members will also attend a public hearing on synthetic drug abuse that Attorney General Lori Swanson is hosting June 7 in Duluth.