Governor signs law targeting synthetic drugs
Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed into law legislation to expand the list of prohibited chemicals used in making synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs.
McDonnell announced Wednesday that he had signed House Bill 1941, which included an emergency clause making it effective immediately.
In a statement, the governor said the new law “continues Virginia’s commitment to combating the spread of illegal drugs in the commonwealth and preserving the safety of our schools and neighborhoods and builds on legislative efforts earlier in my administration to combat drugs and punish drug dealers.”
HB 1941, introduced by Delegate T. Scott Garrett, R-Lynchburg, expands a law that the General Assembly passed in 2011. The 2011 law prohibited specific chemicals used in making synthetic cannabinoids, sold under such names as K2 and Spice, and “bath salts,” a hallucinogen popularized on the Internet.
Since then, McDonnell said that “manufacturers and sellers continue to develop and market chemical variations outside the list of prohibited substances. This has challenged state lawmakers to stay current with the continually emerging chemical variations of these substances that appear in the marketplace.”
The General Assembly added to the list of prohibited chemicals in 2012 and again this year.
“With the enactment of HB 1941, Virginia now bans nine classes of cannabimimetic agents, including 26 specific synthetic cannabinoids and 41 specified research chemical compounds,” McDonnell said.
Republican Delegates G. Manoli Loupassi of Richmond and Margaret Ransone of Kinsale joined Garrett in sponsoring the bill. It passed unanimously in both the House and Senate during the legislative session that ended last month.
“This legislation will help keep Virginians safe from these dangerous chemicals that are designed to profit at the expense of our children,” Garrett said.
Even as McDonnell signed HB 1941, he proposed adding more chemicals to the list of outlawed substances.
The governor noted that besides passing HB 1941, lawmakers also approved a similar Senate proposal – Senate Bill 1083, sponsored by Sen. Mark Herring, D-Leesburg. McDonnell said he will ask the General Assembly to modify SB 1083 when it reconvenes for a one-day session on April 3.
“Since the conclusion of the 2013 General Assembly Session, the Department of Forensic Science and law enforcement officials have worked together to identify five additional chemicals recently detected in evidence,” McDonnell said.
“To account for this recent development, I will be requesting amendments for SB 1083, patroned by Sen. Mark Herring, to include these new chemicals to the list of prohibited under the Code of Virginia.”
Synthetic cannabinoids are dried herbs that have been sprayed with a chemical compound that, when smoked, creates a high similar to marijuana, according to an analysis of the legislation by the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission. “Bath salts” are synthetic stimulants that mimic cocaine, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy) or methamphetamine.
The analysis noted that the penalties associated with those drugs can range from a fine or jail time (for possession of synthetic marijuana, a misdemeanor) to 30 years in prison (for manufacturing and distributing drugs, a major felony).
The 10th Annual Filipino Festival will be held Aug. 7-8 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 8200 Woodman Rd., beginning with opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. Friday and continuing with live entertainment, food and exhibits until 10 p.m. On Saturday the festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a full schedule of performances featuring traditional Filipino dance, music and song.
Filipino cuisine, including BBQ, pansit, lumpia, adobo, halo-halo, lechon, empanada and leche flan, will be available for purchase. The festival will also feature a children's area, church tours, exhibits, and health screenings. > Read more.
The Children’s Museum of Richmond last week opened its new Short Pump location at Short Pump Town Center, to the delight of children who attended a sneak preview of the location July 10. The new facility, located under the forthcoming LL Bean store (formerly the food court) is 8,500 square feet in size – much larger than CMoR’s former Short Pump location at West Broad Village, which opened in 2010. The new space includes The CarMax Foundation Service Station, the Silver Diner, a grocery store, a performance stage and an art studio, as well as a giant Light Bright Wall. > Read more.
The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Henrico Police are both presenting community events tomorrow, Aug. 1. The Feria Community Resource Fair at Richmond International Raceway brings together community service providers, embassies/consulates from Latin American countries, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and corporations that impact the Latino community. The Division of Police’s Community Day will feature demonstrations and displays from police, fire, animal protection and sheriff’s office, as well as family activities, food, entertainment and more. Other events this weekend include wine, chess and theatre! For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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