After two years of trying to stop the manufacturers of synthetic drugs such as bath salts, legislators are targeting retailers instead. A Senate committee has approved a bill to suspend merchant retail licenses for one year if they are caught selling the drugs.
Legislators have banned an array of chemical compounds used in the drugs, only to find that manufacturers quickly tweak the formulas so their drugs are not covered.
The bill drafted by State Police and Attorney General Greg Zoeller shifts the approach to retailers.
State police legal counsel Jordan Stover says any retailer selling “bath salts” or “potpourri” knows he’s selling durgs.
“They don‘t have any other purpose,” Stover says. “You can‘t use them as potpourri; no one‘s buying a one-gram pack of potpourri for $35 or $25 or $10. These manufacturers know, and the retailers know, what they have.”
But Indiana Public Defenders Council executive director Larry Landis says you shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute people who “should have known” the state wanted a product kept of their shelves.
“The fundamental tenet of due process is, every citizen has a right to be put on notice by the drafting of the criminal laws that they can tell the differene between what is criminal and what is lawful,” Landis says.
Bloomington Democrat Mark Stoops voted no. He says the law would essentially put retailers out of business for a criminal violation at the level of a traffic ticket.
The committee voted 6-3 to send the bill to the Senate floor.