Following Surge of Synthetic Drug Overdoses In Syracuse This Week, Rep. Katko Urges U.S. Senate to Act on Bipartisan Legislation to Address Synthetic Drug Crisis

Washington, D.C. — Following news this week that at least 50 people in Syracuse have overdosed on synthetic drugs, U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) has called on the U.S. Senate to act swiftly in taking up the Stop the Importation of Synthetic Drug the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that he introduced and passed through the House to address the synthetic drug crisis.

Rep. John Katko (NY-24)

Toxic, synthetic drugs are designed to mimic street drugs like marijuana, LSD, cocaine, ecstasy and other hard drugs.  They can be more potent than the real thing and often times are more deadly.  Currently, when law enforcement encounters and begins to combat a specific synthetic drug compound, manufacturers of these substances are able to quickly and slightly alter the chemical structure of the drug.  This puts law enforcement at a serious disadvantage, and they are constantly left one-step behind.  Rep. Katko’s legislation will help to stop the unlawful importation and distribution of synthetic drugs by giving law enforcement the effective tools they need to crack down on these substances.  His bill modernizes the Controlled Substances Act and provides a mechanism by which synthetic analogues can be temporarily or permanently added to the Schedule A by the Attorney General.

“It is clear that we need immediate action to end the synthetic drug crisis plaguing our community,” said Rep. Katko. “Our law enforcement must be given the tools they need to ban these substances as soon as they start appearing on our streets.  We cannot allow the surge in synthetic drug overdoses that we saw in Syracuse this week become the new normal, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to act on this bipartisan measure so that we can combat the frightening rise of synthetic substances across our nation.”

Last month, the House passed the landmark SITSA Act, a bill largely inspired by the advocacy of Oswego mother, Teresa Woolson, who lost her son Victor in 2012 when he drowned after using synthetic drugs that he purchased legally in a head shop in Oswego.  Since Victor’s death, Teresa has been a tremendous local and national advocate in the fight to outlaw synthetic drugs.

Katko’s bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, Sens. Grassley (R-IA), Feinstein (D-CA), Johnson (R-WI), and Klobuchar (D-MN).