State Rep. George Ross (R-Attleboro) delivered the following speech Thursday on the House floor in favor of banning the designer drug known as bath salts:
Thank you Mr. Speaker, and through you to the members of the House. I rise in support of the further amendment.
Let me begin by saying to you, Mr. Speaker, and to both my Democratic and Republican colleagues that it is an absolute honor and pleasure to serve with you in this great building and this historic chamber. I admire your dedication and hard work on behalf of your constituents and the people of the Commonwealth.
To the Minority Leader, the gentleman from North Reading, I thank you for your patience and support as I have navigated my way through this new and exciting chapter in my life.
I would be remiss if I did not thank a few people who mean an awful lot to me. First and foremost I would like to recognize my family, and especially my dear wife Jeanne. Jeanne has been with me through thick and thin for 41 years and I love her dearly. I would also like to thank my loyal and hardworking legislative aide, Daneen Ferreira. Without her guidance, I would be in trouble. Lastly and most appreciatively, I would like to thank the good people of the City of Attleboro who gave me this great opportunity.
Being a member of the Great and General Court for the past year and a half, I have had the opportunity to become friends with many of my colleagues. The House of Representatives continues to remain a prestigious institution and I am honored to be a part of it.
As many of you may or may not know, the further amendment before us today would ban the sale of the designer drug referred to as bath salts. Not only is this drug downright dangerous, but it also contains ingredients likened to those found in illegal narcotics. The further amendment seeks to categorize bath salts as a Class C substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Because the ingredients commonly found in bath salts are not currently included in our Controlled Substances Act, these drugs can be sold legally in convenience stores and over the Internet with no legal and/or practical use.
The Joint Committee on Judiciary has conducted a very successful public hearing which drew testimony from law enforcement officials, medical professionals, and families of users of this drug. However, all that testimony paled in comparison with the testimony of a former user of bath salts. This former user provided the Committee members with very dramatic accounts of her struggle with the drug. It was only through the love of her family that she put herself on the road to recovery.
This dangerous drug mimics the effects of cocaine. But it is the end of the euphoric high that produces the most damaging results. Experts say that this drug is psychoactive rather than hallucinogenic. Long term psychological effects have been noted with its use. Paranoia and delusional actions have been noted with even minor usage. This drug can be sniffed, smoked or injected and can be purchased in head shops or convenience stores. The main ingredients are synthetic compounds derived from MDVP.
There have been outbreaks of usage in rural areas as well as cities in the United States. Most of the European countries have banned the substances and to date 35 states have deemed them to be so dangerous, that they have made them illegal.
If my words are not resonating with you, maybe this statistic will: in 2010 there were 304 cases of use of bath salts reported and in 2011 that figure jumped to 6100. These figures beg the question—when will it end?
This further amendment, which I first filed as a standalone piece of legislation, has truly made its way through the legislation process. While at times the process seemed lethargic, I am a patient and persistent man and I knew that someday this common-sense proposal would become law. I had such confidence that this would get done because I had the assistance of the gentleman from Stoughton. I would like to thank him sincerely for helping me through every step of this process, and for caring so much about the safety of the Commonwealth’s citizens. I would also like to thank the gentleman from Chelsea for all of his help and support through this process.
Often we hear that this body is reactive to public safety issues; that we only pass legislation after the fact. Well today we have the chance to be proactive. We have the chance to stop the epidemic before it grows out of control. We as legislators owe it to our constituents to stay one step ahead of these designer drugs and outlaw them. It has become a health issue and well as a public safety issue. I humbly ask that you support me in taking this dangerous drug off the streets of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
I hope you will join me in voting yes for this further amendment. And I ask that when we vote, the vote be taken by a call of the yeas and nays.