Businesses file lawsuit over state’s anti-synthetic drug law

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Has Indiana’s effort to stop synthetic drugs gone too far?

Four Hoosier businesses think so—and now they’ve filed a lawsuit to stop a new law designed to ban “lookalike drugs.” Four members of the National Aromatherapy Product Producers and Vendors filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

Lawmakers passed Senate Enrolled Act 536 last month. Gov. Mike Pence signed it into law on May 7.

The measure, authored by Senator Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, is intended to stop stores from selling bath salts and synthetic drugs that can have properties mimicking controlled substances. The move came after law enforcement and lawmakers grew frustrated with how quickly manufacturers were changing the chemical makeup of the drugs and skirting Indiana’s laws against synthetic drugs.

“Every time that they come out with something new, you’ve gotta outlaw it. And you just can’t do that anymore,” said Merritt.

The NAPPV group claims the law is unconstitutional. In a statement, it said the law allows authorities to regard products as “lookalike” drugs if they have a reason to believe the product resembles an illegal synthetic substance, therefore allowing police to confiscate legal products. They said some stores have already run into the problem since the law went into effect.

Merritt told Fox59 he is going to fight the lawsuit, hoping it will end the debate once and for all.

“The Attorney General will defend this with vigor and we’re gonna get the job done. It is constitutional,” he said. “The only reasons that these drugs exist are to wreck lives and to make money.”