Girgenti/Scutari Legislation Establishing ‘Pamela’s Law’ Signed Into Law

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators John Girgenti (D-Passaic) and Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) known as “Pamela’s Law” that would criminalize the possession and sale of products containing “bath salts,” has been signed into law.

“’Bath salts,’ are clearly dangerous, far too easily accessible and often marketed as ‘cocaine substitutes,” said Girgenti. “Banning these substances make perfect sense, because the more we learn about them, the more we see how destructive they can be. There’s only one reason people purchase these products, and that is to get high.”

“This issue is a matter of public safety and ‘bath salts’ need to be banned immediately. There is no mystery regarding what these products are about and what can happen to those who use them. The results, as we have seen, can be tragic,” said Scutari.

The legislation, S2829, is named in memory of Pamela Schmidt, a Rutgers student and resident of Warren Township, whose body was discovered on March 13, 2011 in the basement of her boyfriend’s parent’s home in Cranford. According to newspaper articles, Schmidt’s boyfriend, who has been charged with her alleged murder, may have been using “bath salts.”

Earlier this year, the Attorney General banned the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of six chemicals that are typically used to make “bath salts.” The order, however, is only in effect for 270 days or until an administrative regulation is enacted, whichever occurs first.

This legislation will permanently make it a crime to manufacture, distribute or dispense, or possess or have under one’s control with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense products containing those chemicals. In cases where the amount involved is one ounce or more, it will be treated as a second degree crime, with possible penalties of five to ten years in jail and a $150,000 fine. In cases where the amount is less than one ounce, it will be treated as a third degree crime, with possible penalties of three to five years imprisonment, a $15,000 fine, or both. The unauthorized possession of products containing those chemicals without the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense the products will be a third degree crime if one ounce or more is involved. If less than one ounce is involved, it will be fourth degree crime, with possible penalties of up to 18 months imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.

The use of these products, which are believed to be highly addictive, has been associated with increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, delusions, and suicidal thoughts. Twenty-seven member states of European Union and several other countries have banned the chemicals commonly found in the designer drug. In the United States ten states have enacted legislation to ban “bath salts”, and legislation is pending in 24 others.

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