Senators take aim at drug-laced candies

Published: Apr. 14, 2017 at 4:37 PM EDT
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Senators on both sides of the aisle are pushing for stronger penalties form criminals who sell candy-flavored drugs.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are re-introducing the Protecting Kids from Candy-flavored Drugs Act, which calls for a mandatory 10-year sentence for those convicted of marketing candy-flavored drugs to children. Repeat offenders could serve up to 20 years.

“We are seeing an increasing problem of candies and cookies and other edible items getting into the wrong hands and causing really bad outcomes," said Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM).

Sabet, who is supporting the legislation, says it's alarming how innocent these drugs can appear.

“Once it's out of the package, these things look exactly like the gummy bears you get a movie theater," Sabet explained, this is done on purpose.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says he re-introduced the bill because the DEA has not tackled this problem.

“They will do anything to get kids hooked on drugs. So, they mix the drugs, even methamphetamine with candy and then sell it like it's real candy," Grassley said.

Opponents of the bill say it targets legal marijuana and those who sell and consume it.

"The goal of Senators Grassley and Feinstein is to go after legal operations in states where recreational use of marijuana is legal, where adults are marketed with edible marijuana," said Kara Gotsch with the Sentencing Project.

Gotsch says she worries how this bill would impact dispensaries in states where marijuana is legal. She also says increasing penalties at the federal level isn't the answer.

"Penalties at the federal level for drug offenses are extremely harsh. Long mandatory minimums are already on the books and in creating additional enhancements seems like a waste of resources," Gotsch said.

Grassley has introduced this bill before, but it has never made it to the president's desk.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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