Synthetic Drug Law Challenged in State Supreme Court

Jul 2, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday on the state's synthetic drug law, which the state says helps it keep up with manufacturers making drugs like bath salts.
Credit Courtesy / Drug Enforcement Administration

The state Supreme Court Thursday heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s law banning synthetic drugs.  The suit involves powers given to the Board of Pharmacy to create emergency rules.

Lawmakers in 2012 gave the Board of Pharmacy rulemaking authority to add more synthetic drugs to the list of banned substances, in the hopes of keeping up with synthetic drug manufacturers.  Two men charged with dealing synthetic drugs challenged the law. 

Attorney Mark Rutherford, representing them in front of the Supreme Court, says the General Assembly’s broad delegation of authority to the pharmacy board violates the Indiana Constitution’s separation of powers.  Rutherford says the legislature should add banned substances to state statute itself.

“How they delegated was not specific enough to make it constitutional, where you have parameters about what it is you can or cannot do,” Rutherford said.

But the state’s attorney, Ellen Meilaender, says the 2012 law did provide guidelines, including defining synthetic drugs as a Schedule I controlled substance.

“And they had said, by statute, that schedule one controlled substances are substances that have a high potential for abuse and that have no accepted medical use,” Meilaender argued.

The Supreme Court did not provide a timetable for its ruling.