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Published November 16, 2012, 09:01 AM

North Dakota pharmacy board to meet on synthetic drugs

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Board of Pharmacy has scheduled a Nov. 30 meeting to consider banning more chemicals used in synthetic drugs.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Board of Pharmacy has scheduled a Nov. 30 meeting to consider banning more chemicals used in synthetic drugs.

State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on Thursday asked the board to use an emergency rule to ban additional substances identified by the state crime lab and other labs across the country.

The meeting will come in the wake of Stenehjem's orders this week that two so-called head shops — Hemp Horizonz in Minot and Big Willies in Mandan — stop selling synthetic drugs. It also follows a high-profile case in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota in which nearly a dozen people were criminally charged in what authorities say was a synthetic drug ring that killed two teenagers and sent others to the hospital.

The pharmacy board used an emergency rule two years ago to outlaw several chemicals used in substances that mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as marijuana and LSD, and the state Legislature added more substances during the 2011 session. But state crime lab forensic scientist Charlene Schweitzer told The Bismarck Tribune that new substances not covered by the law showed up within weeks.

"I reached the conclusion that we cannot wait, even three or four months until the session of the (2013) Legislature comes in, because the lives and health of citizens in North Dakota and especially our young people are at stake," Stenehjem told the pharmacy board Thursday, according to KXMB-TV.

The board agreed to consider an emergency rule Nov. 30 to broaden the state's synthetic drug ban. If Gov. Jack Dalrymple approves of the process and the board passes the ban, the rules will be filed with the Legislative Council and will go into effect. The board will have to hold a public hearing within 60 days of the filing before making the rules permanent.

After the board first outlawed some of the synthetic drug alternatives in 2010, judges threw out cases of people charged before the emergency rules became permanent, saying the public had not been given enough notice of the changes. Stenehjem said his office will work with the pharmacy board to make sure that doesn't happen this time.

Assistant Attorney General Edward Erickson said the notice of the Nov. 30 meeting will be posted on the attorney general's website, the pharmacy board's website and will be distributed to known sellers of the substances. If the rules are adopted, notice will be filed with the Legislative Council, posted on the attorney general's and pharmacy board's websites, and advertised with all of the state's newspapers.

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