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Causeway attack brings new attention to synthetic drugs

The face-eating attack on a homeless man in Miami last month has brought renewed attention to the state’s and law enforcement’s increasingly difficult efforts to stay one step ahead of an industry that is ready to profit from sales of legal but harmful synthetic drugs.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has worked to outlaw manmade narcotic “bath salts” since shortly after she took office, said she is ready to add more chemicals to the list of banned substances, including “Spice” and other synthetic drugs sold at gas stations and specialty shops. Her spokeswoman said Bondi is trying to “remain vigilant.”

But law enforcement officials, who are seeing a spike in uncharacteristically violent behavior associated with users of synthetic drugs, worry that with every banned chemical added to the list, manufacturers of the compounds concoct a new combination that gets around the ban.

They are calling for Bondi, state legislators and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to make it harder for manufacturers to circumvent existing bans and keep new variations of the dangerous drugs from store shelves. Currently, every new compound has to be identified before it is outlawed, and law enforcement officials say it’s time for a new system.

“We could have 10,000 different substances banned before long, as the chemists in China or wherever they are keep modifying them,” said Tommy Ford, a major in the Bay County Sheriff’s Office who first brought the bath salts issue to Bondi’s attention in 2011.

Read more here.