tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 20, 2016 7:46am-9:01am EDT
judiciary subcommittee hearing. >> the crime terrorism, security and investigation subcommittee will come to order. we welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on synthetic drugs and i will begin by recognizing myself for not putting statement. last week the house took significant steps to forward, steps forward and combating the opioid epidemic in america. today the subcommittee will examine important issue the scourge of synthetic drugs in the united states. simply put synthetic drugs are a prime example of how criminals can stay one step ahead of law enforcement. today parents have to worry not only about a child's exposure to illegal drugs but about synthetic drugs many of which are produced and marketed directly at children and young
adults. synthetic cannabinoids with names like spice k. tour scooby snacks, and brightly packaging that make them attractive to teenager marketed and sold as legal alternatives to marijuana cocaine and heroin. does young people believe them to be safe legal alternatives. however they are been deadly. that's because these drugs while designed to mimic the effects of certain illegal drugs often contain a panoply of additional chemicals which can cause increased heart. psychosis and death. the professor who is widely credited with synthesizing cannabinoids for research purposes of clemson university has said these things are dangerous. anybody who uses them as playing russian roulette. there are profound psychological effects. we never intended them for human consumption. indeed they are often labeled as not for human consumption but
everyone the manufacturer seller and the user knows they are intended to be consumed. many states have have banned the substance is biting them to their controlled substance get shows which has resulted in patchwork of state laws. congress congress has also legislatively scheduled some of these substances most recently in 2012 however the problem is as soon as the substance is scheduled for the process begins to schedule a substance the manufactures of these illicit drugs simply change a single atom in the substance is different in can never be scheduled a substance. chemical makeup has been altered and that may have the same effect on the body it's no longer the same chemical. the process has been short-circuited. however the need for federal response remains clear since most synthetic tracks are manufactured and imported overseas especially from china. in just a month in 2014 synthetic or one of poisoned more than 200 people in my home
state of colorado and killed at least one. the arapahoe district attorney described people trying to cut their own heads off and set themselves on fire after using synthetic drugs. in my state these drugs have been marketed as synthetic marijuana and sold at tobacco shops and convenience stores often for a profit of 30% or more. it is big business in these manufactures are profiting off of our misery. i think the witnesses for appearing before the separate exam or to their participation. i now recognize the ranking member of the full committee mr. conyers of michigan for his opening statement. >> enqueue mr. chairman and i welcome the witnesses, look forward to an important discussion. we are going to talk about synthetic drugs, a problem that is primarily affecting adolescents and young adults.
i wish to welcome our witnesses and express my gratitude to them for taking time to come here to offer their personal experiences and insight. the abuse of synthetic drugs or designer drugs has been recognized as far back as the 1980s. producers of these drugs work continuously to create a legal alternative to controlled substances like marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy lsd and opioids. they produce similar kinds of highs. sometimes packaged in small packets with images of cartoon characters printed on them and names like k2 spice, vanilla sky
and scooby snacks, these products are marketed as a harmless good time, and unsuspecting teenagers and young adults who are the primary consumers of these products can purchase so-called synthetic merra juana or bath salts at gas stations, convenience stores, novelty shops and over the internet or further reinforcing the erroneous belief that these products are safe. however, in many cases, there are more potent and more hazardous than the controlled substances that they are meant to imitate. the chemical used to create synthetic drugs can be toxic to the human body producing extreme paranoia, violent behavior,
aggression, hallucinations seizure is and even death. synthetic drugs used has even been linked to heart attacks, psychosis and suicide. instead of attending their child's football game or graduation are helping them complete college applications, parents find themselves in hospital rooms praying there teenager wakes from a coma or in an emergency hoping their child will regain their sanity and returned to college. there are mechanisms in current law that allow for these drugs to be a value weighted and controlled on a case-by-case basis. for instance, the dea has the ability to temporarily placed substances on schedule one when
it is necessary avoid an eminent hazard to public safety however the dea is finding it difficult to keep pace with the development and production of new substances that are not currently illegal. prosecutors have an additional tool, the analogue enforcement act of 1986 to prosecute those who produce synthetic drugs. this legislation serves as a method of criminalizing synthetic drugs without having to ban them individually. we in congress need to learn more about these drugs and that's why this hearing is important. and consider if legislation is needed. we must be careful to craft an appropriate response that does not over criminalizing or over penalized. i think our witnesses for their
time and the benefit of their expertise. i look forward to a discussion of this troubling issue. i think the chairman and i yield back. >> thank you mr. conyers. i would now like to recognize the full committee chairman mr. goodlatte of virginia for his opening statement. >> thank you mr. chairman. i'm pleased to be here as the judiciary committee continues his efforts to protect the american people from the real and growing danger of drug abuse last week's committee moved five bills to the house that will help law enforcement and the treatment community address the opioid epidemic so this hearing is very timely. i want to focus my remarks today on the threat of synthetic opioids which present a critical threat to the american people. as we all know the principle driver of the opioid epidemic in this nation has been the overabundance of prescription pain pills in the hands of consumers, especially opioids
like oxycodone and hydrocodone. america's addiction to opioids have of course been noticed in the criminal underworld and malefactors have taken big steps to profit off america's pain. one way they have done this is through of synthetic opioids including counterfeit description medications laced with fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives. for those who've been paying attention fentanyl is an opioid pain medication which can be 100 times more powerful than morphine. to put that into perspective carawan is typically three times as powerful as morphine. fenton l. is intended to be used to treat extreme pain associated with late stage cancer and other significant health problems. it is not intended to be used recreationally yet it is and with the rise of synthetic opioids it's increasingly being used unknowingly. often drug traffickers will cut heroin with fentanyl to produce
a more potent high. that is led to a rash of deaths across the country because of fentanyl's potency. in recent legislation is committing a good language to provide for sentencing enhancement for anyone who trafficks and heroin cut with fentanyl. there's that to synthetic opioids fentanyl is also widely used. the profit margin is shocking. less than a milligram of fentanyl can be legal. that means a kilogram of fentanyl can generate enormous profits for the trafficker, sometimes upward upwards of a million dollars. so we have a problem. between 20132014 the. of drug overdose deaths in synthetic opioids nearly double. according to the centers for disease control and prevention a substantial portion of this increase appears to be related to the availability of the list of fentanyl. according to the dea 2015 national drug threat assessment
mexico is the primary source country were illicitly produce fentanyl in the united states however pharmaceutical fentanyl has also been diverted from that legitimate supply chain and into the illicit market. some derivatives and analogs analogs of clinton now are manufactured in china and shipped to the united states. drug traffickers and associated profiteers are continuously developing new ways to exploit the american market. evidence of new opioid drugs some more powerful than fentanyl are turning up on the american street corners. for example a synthetic opioid potentially 100 times more powerful than fentanyl which line for smith called the next deadly synthetic street drug. we are under siege. it's time for congress to act in this hearing represents a great first step or they think the witnesses for their testimony
look forward to their response to our questions. >> i thank the chair and without without objection members opening statements will be made part of the record. i recognize chairman goodlatte for five minutes, i'm sorry. we have a various distinguished panel today. i will begin by swearing in our witnesses before excusing them. if you'd all please rise. raise your right hand. do you swear that the testimony you are about to give us the truth the whole whole truth of nothing but the truth so help you god? you may be seated area let the record reflect all of the witnesses responded in the affirmative. mr. lewis milione. special agent louis milione is a deputy minister to finance its drug enforcement administration office of version control where
he serves as october 2015. mr. milione axes the prince of asa to the dea demands recount matters pertaining to the regulation of programs relating to the diversion of legally produce controlled substances and listed chemicals. mr. milione began his career with drug enforcement administration in 1987 and holds a bachelor of arts from villanova university and a law degree from rutgers university school of law. officer william smith junior is an officer with the washington d.c. metropolitan police department. he has over over 20 is a blunt force and experience much of which is focused on narcotics. mr. devin eckhardt is the father of connor eckhardt who died tragically after smoking synthetic marijuana great mr. sadberry is a founder of the counter project and as is a dressy night nations to raise awareness globally about the dangers of synthetic drug use. joins us today along with his wife for ronica in continuation
of that effort. mr. david nichols currently serves as an adjunct professor of chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at the university of art caroline in hill. he has been recognized as a distinguished or faster emeritus at purdue university and adjunct professor of toxicology at india needs proceed day. a ph.d. and medicinal chemistry from the university by what and was a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology at the university of iowa. we will now proceed. i will now recognize each of the witnesses for their opening statement which will be limited to five minutes.
mr. milione pitts thank you congressman buck and establishment of the committee. synthetic cannabinoids deadly fentanyl analogues in other toxic synthetics of tenses are flooding the united states putting unsuspecting users at risk of death and permanent injury. dea seizes drug threat second only to the opioid scourge devastating our country could synthetic cannabinoids in announcer unpredictable and tested substances in color for mark packaging and marketed to our youth is illegal high. emergency room doctors for porto bide range of side effects including brain damage cardiac address kidney failure and extreme psychosis. synthetic cannabinoids in announcer sold openly openly openly in gas stations station's convenience stores had shops and over the internet. fentanyl analogs are fast growing particularly troubling part of the synthetic drug threat. here you have the dangers convergence of a synthetic drug for this with this country's opioid epidemic.
we have substances many times more potent than heroin that are being sold as heroin knicks with hurll and our press and the pope this prescription drugs. fentanyl analogs are so deadly miniscule amounts can kill an unsuspecting user. they can be heard from asia over the internet and delivered directly to your home. because of the massive profit potential cartel are purchasing fentanyl from asia shipping it to mexico mixing with other substances in distributing it throughout the united states. for all of us in the dea for all of her great federal state and local law enforcement partners broke dedicated prosecutors around this country our primary mission is to protect the public in trying to protect the public from the synthetic drug threat here is the most frustrating part. the foreign-based manufactures into the thick pied piper's of this poison often operate with impunity because they exploit loopholes in the analogue
provisions of the controlled substances act and capitalize on the lengthy resource intensive reactive process required to schedule either permanently or temporarily these dangerous substances. as we speak from help chemists in foreign countries are tweaking the molecular structural structure keeping the same properties that the controlled substance helping the manufactures and distributors avoid criminal exposure because of the altered molecular structure. we see these newly-created synthetic drugs by the dozens every year. important to remember these new dangerous substances get piled on top of the hundreds we have determined need to be controlled based on overdoses, deaths and law enforcement encounters. dea moves to temporary schedule as many of us growing that luck as quickly as we can fit for each substance that process averages between three and four months. once temporarily scheduled we seek hhs evaluation for permit scheduling a process that can take several years for each
substance. despite her best efforts to you cannot control the substances at a pace that will prevent additional overdoses and death. we at the dea are grateful for all the legislative and scheduling tools congress has given us over the years that we have had success investigating prosecuting and convicting the traffickers of these dangerous substances using the controlled substances act when synthetic drugs are placed in schedule one. we have also used the analogue act for sentence is not placed in schedule one however today's synthetic drug crisis has outgrown the analogue act. 30 years ago when the act was passed by congress there were favre fewer analogue users and fewer traffickers than exist today. trafficking networks that existed in 1986 were significantly less sophisticated in the transnational networks really a pretty poor do over the weekend working with the tools you have given given us to bring a substances under control and
protect the public that we are many steps behind the traffickers and need your help. in the short term assisting but it could provide dea and her lawn for some partners that the country maybe early that placing the hunters of substances we determine to be dangers and to schedule one. this would allow us to keep the synthetic drugs out of the country get them off the shelves of retail stores and bring to justice not the user population that the egregious domestic and foreign traffickers preying on our youth exploiting human frailty for-profit in flooding our country with these dangerous drugs. in the long-term we would welcome an minute to the controlled substances analogue act that would align the act with current threat and/or perhaps other tools that would allow us to more quickly bring these drugs under control. we stand ready to work with you to provide any assistance we can address any of your concerns. one concern that's been raised at that placing hundreds of dangerous synthetic drugs and to
schedule one will impede legitimate scientific research. here are several facts that may inform that concern. dea is never rejected a proposal for bona fide research of any schedule one substance. currently there are 469 approved schedule when researchers and many of multiple approved protocols to study different schedule one substance is. in the last year is take an average of 32 days for dea to approve one application. once the researcher has received approval a little more than four weeks. i would argue these are reasonable requirements on balance with her duty to protect the public from these highly unstable and often deadly drugs. the dea is committed to everything we can to address this threat. we look forward to working with congress with our partners and law enforcement medical and scientific entities to improve our effectiveness. thank you very much for this opportunity and i look forward to answering any questions you have. >> thank you special agent
[inaudible] [inaudible] >> i apologize. first responders to respond to individuals under the influence of synthetic drugs. the side effects of synthetic drugs are very similar to another drug was law enforcement officers encounter which is good since i put pain or pcp. i am not a small officer in deal with victims of pcp and let it be known that even in my stature at times it has been very difficult for myself and other officers to restrain these individuals. individuals of influence of the substances have an absolute supernatural human strength and the increased pain tolerance which can lead to officers and
first responders being injured when dealing with these individuals. according to the drug enforcement administration voice control has seen a 229% spike in calls in relationship to synthetic drugs. hunters of the synthetic drugs are manufactured overseas in china and mexico with no regulation. there has been reported a 49,000 new chemicals used in the synthetic drugs. this is costing children and teenagers their lives. also the synthetic drugs are designed to keep law enforcement from finding -- chemicals to the dea tested by this past fall in front of the house energy and commerce committee kerry are three steps behind the criminal's when it comes to synthetics and analogues. in the past few years and that marijuana has become the popular choice of synthetic drugs. it's designed to limit the effects of the vinegar one and has a wide commercial availability that it can be bought at local stores for as little as $5 a piece which has
made it popular among young people and the homeless. this is sold under brand names such as bizarro kate to spice and scooby snacks. these drugs are manufactured in facility in china and mexico but they were changing chemical cocktails. all 50 states about what synthetic drugs in some way they the problem is favor changing chemical makeup. the manufactures of the synthetic drugs change the chemical makeup to claim the product is not illegal. synthetic marijuana has two to five times the strength and the amount of thc of normal marijuana and lead to 14% increase in hospital visits from 2,922,012. commissioner william bratton from the city of new york police department stated this is a scourge on our society affecting the most disadvantaged neighborhoods and our most challenge citizens. it effects teenage in public housing homeless shelters and is
quite literally flooding our streets. previous session of congress -- to add bath salts marijuana and other synthetic drugs to be schedule controlled substance but the chemical manufacturers have found loopholes for manufacturing industry beating these drugs for analogue drugs because they are similar but not chemically identical to the scheduled substances. with the loopholes just a british cell abusers the synthetic substance know what to do with them. they ingest them to an unpredictable and dangerous hype in the past two years we have found a, seen more new drugs. synthetic sounds only used by doctors as the most powerful opioid medicine however according to the das d.a. of much of what is found in the street is not converted from hospitals the source from china and mexico. bring only people bite on the street with no idea is sense now. it's reported to be 102200
strong's -- stronger than heroin. to put in perspective how go .25 milligrams is it typical baby aspirin is 81 milligrams if you cut than 81 million grams and that -- one of these pieces would be equal to quarter milligram. 80% of all that small seizures in 2014 were concentrated in just 10 states ohio massachusetts pennsylvania maryland new jersey kentucky virginia florida new hampshire and indiana. i would like to thank the committee. >> thank you officer smith. we now recognize mr. eckhardt. if you could turn a microphone on. for five minutes. >> advice to make sure that each of the committee members has a copy. as was stated my name is devin eckhardt and i'm joined by my
wife veronica. for personal reasons we chose to join you today to dedicate time to better understand the threats and issues surrounding psycho additive substances sometimes are hurt sometimes are her to his desire to expand the epidemic. macrowhich they are spending the severity of their destructive effects in the u.s. and globally and the deadly impact they're having upon our countries are communities and their families and is our sincere hope and prayer each of you will leverage your individual and collective power to do more than simply discuss this growing problem but rather you will choose to take action now and make changes necessary to eradicate these deadly poisons in their proliferation. it's my hope that my testimony will help her fight some heart to the head knowledge that you hear so frequently in these conversations. sadly my wife family and i tragically know all too well the devastating impact of synthetic drugs. in july of 2014 are 19-year-old son connor was a bright vibrant
young band with a full life ahead of him. it was really what most would consider the omega boy. he had a great job, he was repairing to go back to college. he loved music surfing the outdoors. he had lots of friends and of course he was deeply loved by our family come his sisters as mother and of course me his father. his first photo is a family shot taken july 5 of 2014. it was the last time we were together like this is a family. eight days later, eric was with a new friend. he made the seemingly innocent decision. he agreed to try something called spice a synthetic poison and the result was the second photo there. to many days in the hospital with her senata, he was ultimately declared brain-dead pecan or died july 16, 2014.
after one smoke purchased at a local store, at the time we are unaware and we made the decision to share our story publicly. to be trained -- painfully transparent with our tragedy but the simple hopes that perhaps it might change one person's life. it might spare them and their family terrific circumstances that we were facing and that we now live with each day. since the death of our son 671 days ago we have met far too many parents who also lost children to synthetic drugs like spice and fewer our reach became education efforts over these past 671 days we communicated with hundreds of thousands of people throughout the united states and around the world who
have lost loved ones or had their lives tragically destroyed by synthetic drugs. unfortunately what happened to connor is not unique to far too many people have suffered irreparable harm including death as a result of trying for using these poisons however what is unique about this story is how it has received an overwhelming global response to what we share public leave through social media, news interviews tv radio or broadcast around the world to his the story is cut through the racial social economic geographic and religious barriers to building counted and we know in ps affect everyone everywhere. we are not just one voice. connor is not just one face for some statistic. we represent the voice and the face of many others just like us. we have had the opportunity to reach millions of people of the subject. we have been interviewed by most of the major news and media outlets around the u.s. and
globally and of course we have levers of -- social media. they have had unique facebook post out of reach millions of the time with one reaching over 37 million people globally. we had the opportunity speak in many settings spoken to senator's legislators lawn for some officials in many government. in the house of lords in the u.k. this past summer when we were there on the subject to be worked with numerous organizations in effort to educate awareness on the dangers of synthetic drugs and we have were to change the laws in our street stores in communities but more must be done to the problem is getting worse. hundreds of new synthetic drugs compound that appeared around the world last few years sometimes spreading at the. of a new drug per week and we are allowing these could to come into our country. it illicit drugs manufactures are constantly working in changing formulas developing new chemical derivatives in order to evade the laws and frankly they are working faster than we are
to be issued nps needs to be addressed in a be addressed any. >> anathemas congressional gathering has ended and you return home, you will return to your families, your children and those you love and care for. when we return home, we return to a family that has been forever changed because the death of our beloved son is there so that synthetic drugs. as long as people around the world are pushing these poisons into our communities with little or no consequence to their actions may do know this we will continue to see the spread of synthetic drugs and the terrible harm they bring to her family and her youth and communities to get the power to do something about this. you are in her position of influence and leadership and we are pleading with you to please take action. not just talk about and debate the issues bring about change will give these substances out of her committees and dealer prep really with those behind
the manufacture and distribution old way. thank you for your time and your consideration on this. >> thank you for your courage. i appreciate your wife being here also. dr. nichols i recognize you for five minutes. then a congressman buck, is my microphone on? congressman buck members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to appear today. during my career i worked with synthetic drugs possessing a researcher schedule one dea registration paid by goal was to understand how the structural molecule engaged a biological target us better understanding how these substances act in the brain that i'm very concerned about the potential harm to human health presented by synthetic drugs. their availability requires a response including regulation yet they do not believe the proposed legislation would have prevented the recent emergence of spice. rather they focus on already noncontrolled substance types. we badly need reasonable
approaches to controlling new types of synthetic substances. the challenge is to preserve researchers needs while stemming the flow danger synthetic chemicals and a proper response to consider three points. first allowing research of potential therapeutic uses, second legislation should be guided by rigorous science entered the impact on mass incarceration especially in cases where substances have not been fully vetted by the scientific community. few investigators will pursue research with schedule one drugs various researchers discourage engagement obtaining a schedule one licenses not a trivial matter and researcher must be motivated to obtain one even if the investigator requires small truck amounts that do not represent a potential for diversion in most cases researchers are funded for example by nida to study only the deleterious properties of a specific drug of abuse but is also important to have funding available for research identified beneficial properties of schedule one substance is as with recent medical marijuana. the cause of the burdens of
schedule one license that her research that might be to medicines. research on schedule one dose is important because the last decade of studies have indicated so still as i've been a schedule one drug may have unique therapeutic efficacy in treating anxiety depression and addiction to alcohol and nicotine. as an example professor charles nicholson goes he decided to study the receptor targets have a listen and jim's. the only hallucinogenic available to license license was called the wife who discovered by accident deal why his potent anti-inflammatory properties indicating potential efficacy in treating cardiovascular disease and asthma grade had dui been a schedule and he would never would have discovered this breakthrough. most pharmaceutical companies have abandoned research for depression and depression and bipolar disorders is that compulsive disorder and others others. given that causes the research is extremely expensive with a low probability of success but ironically the kinds of substances we are concerned with here today act in the brain is
quite possible new medicines will result from new research on them being responsible legislation should protect research that might lead to the discovery of new medicines. without solid scientific evidence that some eyes to schedule new molecules with untested potential. sometimes changing a single atom on a molecule can alter his pharmacology. superficial comparisons of chemical structured resemblance or predicted farm would -- pharmaceutical effects are not a reliable basis for schedule one classification. will be chen and effective antidepressant resembles annoyed there are hundreds of thousands of synthetic compounds that could be made and we know little about just a few of the most recent ones. there's no schedule category for drugs that have no known medical value but have not and shown with high potential. we should research compounds bye bye law forsman by scheduling those with the most. health and safety risk.
the scientific medical community would conclude the schedule and compounds with no demonstrated public health dangers are pending the list cars duration -- incarceration. person to manufacture and distribute these substances that harm human health should be held accountable for any people today do not believe in making users criminals. there's a consensus developing that use it up a psychoactive suffers as a public-health matter not a criminal matter but a one drugs has been unsuccessful and preventing drug use in the contribute to our country and the largest prison operation the world. a large percentage of them were cursory visit bristol the nonviolent drug offenses. the prohibition represents a great threat to the health of our youth and regulation must be a component of the solution to this problem. i strongly believe drug controlling scheduling decision should be granted investments should be grounded in that sense prevails balance between the needs of research and enforcement select potentially through pieces through reason i
i -- experiment that most passive as investors conference victor connie and felony convictions only at the problems. thank you. >> thank you dr. nichols. we will now proceed under the five minute rule with questions for the witnesses and i recognize mr. gohmert from texas. >> i think all the witnesses for being here. it's an important subject. and mr. eckhardt it's obviously very difficult for you. what a handsome young man and you and your wife had, obviously brought a lot of joy. you mentioned he bought it legally. did you ever find out how he heard about this and where he purchased it? >> connor was with a new friend that day.
he had actually been offered -- can you hear me okay? >> they been offered marijuana. he declined. he did want that. he did want to be around it and as an alternative to synthetic drugs were suggested and they were purchased at a local smoke shop a lot with other tobacco products. i think truly it was viewed as a safe alternative. >> because it was legal. so it must be okay. >> it was legal and youth find themselves often in situations of peer pressure and you is declining one thing and it was a way to concede. >> he was acting admirably, relying on his government. it was too harmful it will -- it would be illegal obviously. and obviously as you and your
wife have been raising awareness , if he had been aware of the dangers obviously he was sharp enough and moral enough that he would have turned it down. he just didn't know the risks. mr. milione how big is the market for illicit prescription drugs compared to heroin? >> the market for prescription or listed are prescription opioids is massive. would be hard to put a number on it. if you put an overdose number we are talking 18,000 overdoses in one year of prescription opioids. with here when you have almost 9000 so if heroin is trending up you have a mass prescription opioid problem. >> is the opioids trending down or his heroin trending up? >> we don't see downward trend
in prescription opioid abuse or overdoses. that is trending up not equate the. that heroin is trending up but they are both trending up. carawan is affecting unfortunately on that graph. >> isn't it interesting is her federal government is forcing people to turn away from god, they are searching for answers in other places that are not so good for them. do you know what the profit margin for a kilogram of the synthetic cannabinoids is? >> it's a massive profit margin so for maybe $1500 or $1000 up to $2000 you can buy a kilogram of the synthetic substance synthetic cannabinoids and 13 kilograms of barstow leaf.
you could turn it into $250,000. that initial $101,500 a $200,000 in profit. >> dr. nichols he wrote and article in january of 2011 were you expressed remorse because someone had to use your public research to produce a substance that caused six deaths. how could they have used your article to produce that? did you go into that kind of detail? is hard to believe they could have taken your article. what is that? >> the situation is the chemist who was involved in making these substances are quite accomplished. i think many have ph.d.s so we published in the up and scientific literature. i've been doing studies of ecstasy's mechanism of action. when the compounds we have made was called mta and we used a red assay that identified compounds
which cause release of a brain transfer code called serotonin. it doesn't represent the effects of ecstasy that somebody apparently in the netherlands saw that paper we published and actually published a potential antidepressant when we looked at it. they saw we had made it great to synthetic ingredients are innate -- and ironic -- or wanted to put into is called flatlanders. i was really shocked because all medicinal chemistry working till published their work in the literature. if you work with mda lawsuits all out there in the methods are in the papers. just take someone you can mind that literature to find the kind of compound they want to work with. >> but you were not publishing the recipe. >> it's in the scientific location. >> but not in your article. >> not in the essay. >> i think you blame yourself
too much for that but i perceive the time and i yield that. >> the chair recognizes the ranking member from texas ms. jackson-lee. >> mr. chairman thank you very much. this is a very important hearing and i want to thank each of the witnesses. mr. milione and mr. smith, eckhardt and dr. nichols thank you so very much. i hope i pronounced that milione correctly. i was previously in a meeting and i will have to go to another meeting dealing with criminal justice but this is a very important hearing. let me thank the chairman as well mr. buck and the chairman of the subcommittee mr. sensenbrenner and the chairman of the full committee and mr. conyers the ranking member the full committee. i'm grateful for the work that we have done to organize this hearing in spring the use of abusive synthetic drugs to the attention of subcommittee previous several witnesses that will provide their own unique
perspectives regarding the effect and dangers of synthetic drugs but my home state of texas has been affected by the proliferation of synthetic drugs it is causing great harm. it's a designer drug made from a combination of synthetic chemicals sprayed on plant material packaged by candy smoked like marijuana. it has no constraint of regulations and no guidelines. bush is typically many times more potent than natural marijuana produces a physical and psychological effects that are uncharacteristic of natural marijuana use. people that use it have suffered paralysis brain damage heart attacks and even death. the supposed brand name for synthetic or one. law enforcement agencies across the nation identify hundreds of names given to synthetic marijuana priebus committee hearing is important for that reason that we need to get the facts. whatever we generate an legislation should be confined by the facts. we don't want to expand the
fishnet if you will on individuals who happen to be either attracted a dictator using this drug and i hope that we will have enough facts to be able to craft the sufficient federal response to this very important issue. mr. chairman i'm going to ask unanimous consent to rest my statement be included in the record. >> without objection. >> i'm also going to ask that my questions for the witnesses be submitted for answers to ask unanimous consent a mic questions submitted to the witnesses. >> without objection so ordered. >> i'm going to pose a question to dr. nichols. i'm concerned about making sure we are not so broad that we in fact do not appropriately respond synthetic drugs. and let me by the way in a
moment of personal privilege my daughter graduated with honors from chapel hill so you are elevated even higher in my site. why is it important dr. nichols that the scientific experts in the field of study synthetic compounds play role in determining the proper response in terms of drug scheduling and other controlled measures? .. look at these compounds that are proposed for scheduling to really determine. they basically try to think
of everything possible. one of the comments i made was, we're talking about hallucinogens and synthetic cannabinoid compounds, what if a new type of drug hits the street? there is no legislation that would take care of a new chemo type. some chinese chemist plays around, find something we've never seen before, and we have another scourge. the laws are really hindsight laws. i think we need some out-of-the-box thinking in terms of ways to approach this that would cut out the possibility fornuclear types of drugs reinvesting it and be more careful and circumscribing the things we have using expertise. there's a lot of expertise in the american society that could sit down and look at this and say these are problems. just casting a wide net, many may not be helpful to
human health. there is no focused shotgun approach. i just have not seen that brought to bear. >> let me thank you. i think you have laid a landscape of parameters that we should seriously look at. we do so successful set of legislative initiatives on opioids, and it was based on thought and hearing, a series of 18 those last week that all of us can find satisfaction with in the way it was approached. the judiciary billet not have any mandatory at all. i want to make sure we are we're accurately and appropriately addressing this problem, and i will take a very puzzling your
astute analysis doing with the vastness of compounds that subsets to make sure we narrowly address these poisonous drugs and not have a wide reach. with that thank you and i yield back. appreciate your time. >> thank you. i now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. bi. >> thank you mr. chair and to the witnesses were being here today. iwant to particularly thank mr. eckert and veronica for being here today for your testimony. they many of the folks in this room, i am a parent. i have a 16 -year-old son in the 1418 -year-old. this issue causes me great agony. for you,agony. for you, my heart goes out to you and your wife. pray for you and your family, for what you have been through.
i thank you for your courage to be here. it is incredible what you are doing. i intend to take your message back. i wonder if you might share with us what you believe is the most effective method of raising awareness. >> thank you so much for having us here. obviously is very difficult. we are passionate about the subject. obviously needs to change now. getting a public service announcement now happening
with the opiate and heroin epidemic, getting public service announcements out there, recognizing that these products are available and candy form, liquid form, getting that message out there, they simply do not know. full stories, full stories from people who lost their children out of to death or mental illness. people simply don't know. teachers need to know, nurses even out,now, counselors need to know. this is something that can be done immediately. awareness, education prevention. thirteen, 14, 15, in addition to spice, there is not a place that your child to get treatment plan this is a very serious issue.
>> appreciate your testimony. i wonder if you might be able to address this. kaytoo was an issue not too long ago. hit theago. hit the stores. it was in the local gas station. got a call from one of my local police chiefs who told me that he was trying to get it off the shelf but could not do it because there was no legal authority to. how do we get ahead of this? what do we do to prepare for the next generation, clearly these folks that are selling it in stores are selling
with knowledge that it is being used in an illicit way. it is being used by our youth. a way that is intended for some sort of five. how do we get ahead of this? what can we do to help give you the tools that you need? >> thank you for the question. as i mentioned before, we identified hundreds of based on theory that overdoses, deaths, law enforcement encounters. they are talking dozens. the most effective way is to get them in the schedule one. that would solve a couple problems. stop with the border but more importantly for increase the cost of those that are trafficking in it, not using it, trafficking in it.
they operate with impunity. another possible solution would have to do with that labeling. there is a bill that as to have appropriate labeling. these kinds of false labeling. so those are couple ideas. more than happy to work on providing any technical assistance in that area. >> getting the word out on the street. i believe it was spoken to the fact that these kids are buying this legally in stores. again, thinking it is illegal substance. they're not doing the
articlehard core street drugs we used to see them do. they are not taking this out >> thank you both very much. anything i can personallyi can personally do, and i know others in the same way. >> thank you. >> the controlled substances act provides for two mechanisms for controlling. congress can do it legislatively for the dea in collaboration with the department of health and human services can do it administratively. when the da takes an action we begin selling new versions of the products with new unregulated compounds in them. inthem. in your opinion how effective is the current
legislative framework? >> certainly we appreciate the tools. it is a reactor process, resource intensive process. also travel the country, 65 different federal prosecutions. it is a very reactor process after all this alreadyis already occurred. once we initiate is generally two to three years by the time they can do their analysis. pile on top, and it is like pushing that proverbial massive rock up the hill. >> what should congress do to expedite the classification?
>> ii would be willing to work with your staff to talk specifics, anything that would streamline the process for give us some breathing room. >> i would love to work with you on that. >> absolutely. >> in order to secure federal and state laws any of the label is not intended for human consumption. how are these cribs affecting law enforcement's ability to prosecute synthetic drug in their current. >> the evil brilliance. they look at the acting create something and put that on the substance. now you have a battle of experts and prosecute them. so one way you could potentially fix that, if you have some kind of labeling requirement it would defeat
the defense. that is in the realm of technical assistance or advice. >> the majority of been manufactured and imported from china. what has been done to combat these chemical compounds? >> trying growing relationship with the republic of china. the scheduled 116 new psychoactive substances, synthetics and as a result they provide leads to identify domestically.
>> in our chemicals are being imported. >> there being labeled as research chemicals, like any other contraband, mislabeled.contraband, mislabeled. we'll have the authority to stop them. the majority of them are not scheduled. >> officer smith, in the past several years they're has been an enormous increase in the variety and number of synthetic drugs available. the effect of the drunks can vary greatly, as a 1st responder what additional precautions to police officers have to take when approaching an individual suspected to be under the influence of synthetic drugs? >> ma'am, from a law enforcement 1st responder stand point law enforcement priority ms dealing with individuals of synthetic drugs is similar to the
effects of the cpm individual. they are very unpredictable to deal with. they can be very passive one moment and with the flick of a light switch are extremely agitated, violent, and the officers and firefighters and ems responders. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. >> and i willi will yield back one or two minutes to mr. bishop. >> thank you. i wonder, thousand questions a small a lot of time but i wonder if i might ask, the dea project synergy found that millions of dollars in sales of synthetics were being funneled back to the middle east.
what i assume to be terrorism purposes. can you comment? >> it was a multi- year multi agency investigation, and you're right, hundreds of millions of dollars in proceeds were going back to the middle east, yemen, syria, lebanon. we continue to explore that with our partners. but that operation resulted in the seizure almost 7,000 kilograms of cannabinoids in the number of successful hundreds of prosecutions, we are still exploring that. i would not be able to speak to some of the throats of those investigations. >> one quick follow-up. they know that this is not necessarily manufactured here. in many cases it comes from china.
how is the trafficking handled when he gets to the united states? cartels,. >> well, on both the synthetic cancannot broadside on the fentanyl analog, the much more important than heroin synthetic there are several ways, but the primary is manufactured in china, sent to mexico, mexican cartels are exploiting in capitalizing on the opioid epidemic with the heroin trafficking and taking the synthetic pheromone and mixing units in the across the border, careers taking it into massachusetts, really every part of the country is being touched. you can also get directly from china, you can mix it with other compounds and distributed. it is a terrible, treacherous world that we are creating. >> thank you for your testimony.
>> thank you. i have all thehallenge for calling a hearing. i want to express, i have five children and cannot imagine what you're going through and want to express my deepest condolences to you, your wife, and your entire family. i am sure it is difficult to be here testifying, but i greatly admire the courage you have to help us to more fully understand the true impact of these drugs are society. want to follow up on the questions being asked. to your knowledge is dea working with customers border to interdict the shipments? >> as closely as we can. absolutely. >> cooperative agreements in place. >> i don't know. there is a healthy working relationship.
>> and you think it is functioning? >> i believe so. >> the number of synthetics that has occurred? >> i'm sorry? >> estimate the number of prosecutions? >> it would be hard to come up with a hard number. >> okay. mr. smith, paul has the department had to shift the drug enforcement. >> the combining of synthetic drugs is typical enforcement of any other law. it's ever-changing chemical makeup of the synthetic drugs for prosecution.
just tweaking one chemical out of changes the enforcement aspect on law enforcement. a chemical drug that was not actually scheduled. they change in adam. it is now a new chemical. >> is anything you have not been able to tell us? >> how much time do you have? one of the things that occurs to me, how a price tag? hello price tag changes being made or delayed? from a parent's perspective, the general public's perspective we would feel like in the many hundreds of thousands of people we have communicated with would feel like if something looks like
a duck, walks like a duck,. >> ,. >> like a duck let's call it a dog. your down at the molecular adam structure, and because they change one molecule and skirts our laws and is available. how many young people have to lose their lives to death or permanent disability, the impact of the community and society as a result the ability to researcher talk about them were study trends and statistics. let's do something. i think parents and the general public need to be informed. they had no idea. we talked to our children about drugs. test test test. test test test. test test test. test test test.
test test test. test test test. test test test. test test test. test test test. test test test. test test test. test test we need help from our government. >> thank you, i yield back. >> i think the gentleman. the chair recognizes the children of the full committee. >> thank you, and i apologize for nothing able to be with you for the entire hearing. i appreciate your testimony and this brochure. i have in my experience seen a few other people who basically dedicated their lives to try to make it there someone offers life meaningful, and another that is exactly what you are trying to do in dealing with a horrific loss, like you are. i very much commend you. i don't know how much of foundations research has
given you,you, but it may have been asked already. some of these products like regular commercial products. that increase, i'm sure, the opinion that this must be legitimate. what do you know about this companies? is a legitimate companies that make our products, or other just totally illegal operations that have this stuff mysteriously appear in various stores for people to buy? >> to the best of our understanding there is no legitimate use the chemicals the businesses these products in the marketplace are not selling. >> just disappear into thin air. >> try to discover it was
the manufacturer. there is a deep web and it is not easy to go. >> made in the u.s. army outside? >> how much cooperation did you get? trying to do that research up the chain? >> from our perspective the law enforcement in the people around us were supportive. >> they were unable to help you go to theup the chain and find out who made the product. >> right. >> you testified about how potent it is, even if it is just as through the skin.
what harm could the substance to have dispersed over crowd of people? >> kill them. i'm not a scientist obviously. we have much smarter people than myself on our staff that are. it will depress your respiration and cause death. >> as was talked about, a miniscule amount. one of the challenges obviously, but they could be taking fennel and not realize it an overdose. my brothers and sisters in and overdose, but then for my brothers , 1st responders, and within the dea, it is a very, very difficult situation. every time you encounter heroin you have to assume it's fennel. that is something the law enforcement all of the country and ems, re