Two senators on the Judiciary Committee are preparing a bill that would create tough new penalties for people caught with synthetic opioids, NPR reports. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who have supported reducing some drug sentences, are preparing the new bill. Grassley is the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is the committee’s ranking member. The bill would give the attorney general more power to ban many types of synthetic drugs, and would impose a 10-year maximum sentence on people caught selling these drugs as a first offense. If they are caught a second time, the maximum sentence would double. Last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced he is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe penalties possible for drug crimes.
Following reports of 130 suspected overdoses linked to synthetic drugs in New York last week, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill that would ban 22 synthetic drugs. While some synthetic cannibinoids are banned under federal law, people who make the drugs continually change the chemical compound to stay one step ahead of authorities, CNN reports. Schumer’s bill would outlaw variants of “K2” and “Spice,” as well as variants of the opioid fentanyl. “New York’s most recent K2 binge that left our ER’s bulging and streets strewn with stupefied users with zombie-like symptoms are a sign of what’s to come if Congress doesn’t act quickly,” Schumer said in a news release.