On July 10, 2015, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law emergency legislation aimed at preventing the sale of synthetic drugs in the District of Columbia. The law authorizes the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), and District government as a whole to take swifter and stronger action against businesses who sell these illegal products.
Under the new law:
MPD can immediately close—for up to 96 hours—any business selling or even possessing synthetic drugs;
DCRA can initiate a legal action to revoke the business’s license(s);
DCRA can issue a fine of $10,000 for a first offense; and
Penalties increase for subsequent offenses.
The complete legislation is available here (link will be provided shortly). DCRA has also promulgated emergency rules, which can be viewed here.
What are synthetic drugs?
Synthetic drugs are chemically altered substances that can produce hallucinogenic effects similar to illegal drugs like Phencyclidine (PCP) or Methamphetamine (Meth).
They are usually labeled as common products such as potpourri or bath salts, but they are sold in much smaller quantities and at much higher prices. For example, a store would sell a few grams of “potpourri” for $15—many times more expensive than the price for comparable products.
Often, the packaging also includes warnings or information that wouldn’t ordinarily be found in this type of product, such as glass cleaner saying “legal in all 50 states”.
What should you do if you see a store selling synthetic drugs?
Report it immediately by calling 311.
Why should you care if a store is selling synthetic drugs?
The store is selling a product that will hurt members of the community; synthetic drugs have been linked to catastrophic health effects. Any store selling them is directly profiting from the pain and suffering of its customers.
Is there any way to identify businesses that don’t sell synthetic drugs?
Yes. More than 150 businesses across the District have signed the pledge below promising that they will not sell synthetic drugs. Look for this sticker in store windows or at store counters.
Have any businesses been shut down for selling synthetic drugs?