The Drug War Chronicle reports that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has placed a "hold" on bills aimed at banning fake pot, pseudo-speed, and the synthetic psychedelic 2C-E. In a recent interview with the Bowling Green, Kentucky, Daily News, Paul said the hold, which requires 60 votes to override, was motivated partly by "disproportionate" federal penalties that leave too little sentencing discretion for judges. "The main reason we are opposing this is someone could be kept in prison for 20 years," he said. Another reason, Rand spokeswoman Moira Bagley told The Lexington Herald-Leader, is that the senator believes "enforcement of most drug laws can and should be local and state issues." Bagley "said another of Paul's concerns—which others have echoed—is that the proposed legislation could hinder efforts to do beneficial research on the chemicals." The Herald-Leader says "Paul does not anticipate lifting his hold," which "has been in place for at least three months."
In its entry on 2C-E, Erowid notes a total of three fatal overdose reports: the case Klobuchar mentions, plus two deaths in Oklahoma involving a substance "thought now to have been mislabeled bromo-dragonfly." By comparison, alcohol poisoning causes hundreds of deaths a year in the U.S. and contributes to more than 1,000. So by all means, let's have a debate about the merits of banning every psychoactive substance that happens to catch a pharmaphobic legislator's attention. Let's talk about the unjust, utterly arbitrary distinctions drawn by our drug laws, which send people to prison for years or decades because they manufactured or supplied intoxicants that scare people like Amy Klobuchar. But let's have an actual debate, not a headlong, no-time-to-lose rush to panic-palliating prohibition.