Fawkes-Lee & Ryan shares a common goal with law enforcement – protecting young people from harming themselves with mood- altering compounds like K2. Where we differ is in the approach to this problem. Currently, legislation is being proposed using the long honored criminal or deterrent approach. This tactic has not and will not work. Our overcrowded jails and prisons lay testimony to this fact.
One of the main problems is that government is on the defensive trying to outlaw these compounds, but manufacturers are creating new products faster than the government can outlaw them. This is why we recommend a different approach. Instead of criminalizing the sale and possession of these products, which requires extensive law enforcement resources, government should focus on the regulation, profitability and liability of selling these products. Businesses need to sell profitable products.
Licensing is required for alcohol. There are age restrictions to selling alcohol. There is also justifiable liability attached to selling and distributing alcohol products. The focus isn’t on regulating only specific alcohol types or the chemical make-up; all products containing alcohol are addressed. Also, businesses are forced to take responsibility for the effects of these products and the resulting threat to public safety if, for example, an inebriated person gets behind the wheel of a car after purchasing and consuming excessive amounts at a bar. If businesses don’t follow the rules, they risk losing their license and in turn their profit margin.
A licensing requirement for mood-altering substances, such as synthetic cannabinoids and similar products, creates an important hurdle for business and allows local government control over issuance of these licenses. Furthermore, there should be greater liability if someone ends up in the emergency room after ingesting or inhaling these products. Critics who fear change will find 102 flaws with this idea. The point we are making is that government has other options to exercise. Why not develop and implement a strong offense?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if next session the legislature could focus on the demand-side of substance abuse – why are young people abusing drugs? Otherwise we fear that our time will be spent next session trying to stop legislation outlawing household products like hand sanitizer or tree fertilizer. Let’s work together and center our attention on the end goal of protecting the health and well-being of Iowans.
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