Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

02/11/2011 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 7 SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS AS SCHEDULE IIA TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 7(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 127 CRIMES INVOLVING MINORS/STALKING/INFO TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+= HB 80 SELF DEFENSE TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
         HB 7 - SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS AS SCHEDULE IIA                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:39:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL   NO.  7,  "An  Act   classifying  certain  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids   as  schedule   IIA   controlled  substances;   and                                                               
providing for an  effective date."  [Included  in members packets                                                               
was a  proposed committee substitute  (CS) for HB 7,  Version 27-                                                               
LS0044\E, Luckhaupt, 2/9/11.]                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:39:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative Cathy Munoz,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of  Representative Munoz,  one of  HB 7's                                                               
joint  prime   sponsors,  referring   to  a   proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) - Version E -  in members packets and noting that                                                               
she's spoken  with the  Department of  Law (DOL)  and Legislative                                                               
Legal and Research Services, relayed  that Version E is proposing                                                               
to add  the synthetic cannabinoids  named therein to the  list of                                                               
schedule  IIIA controlled  substances.   This approach  was taken                                                               
because there are other  synthetic materials/compounds that mimic                                                               
the  effects  of  tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC),  as  well  as  THC                                                               
itself, already  in schedule IIIA,  and so  it made sense  to add                                                               
those listed in HB 7 as well,  since they, too, can mimic some of                                                               
the effects of THC.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:41:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON moved to adopt  the proposed CS for HB 7,                                                               
Version 27-LS0044\E, Luckhaupt, 2/9/11,  as the working document.                                                               
There being no objection, Version E was before the committee.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER, in  response to a question, relayed  that in Alaska,                                                               
the  list of  schedule  IA controlled  substances includes  those                                                               
substances [that are  found to have the highest  degree of danger                                                               
or probable  danger to a  person or  the public], such  as opium,                                                               
methadone, and  heroin, to name a  few; the list of  schedule IIA                                                               
controlled substances  includes those substances [that  are found                                                               
to have a degree of danger or  probable danger to a person or the                                                               
public  which is  less than  substances listed  in schedule  IA],                                                               
such as  cocaine and  various hallucinogens, to  name a  few; and                                                               
the  list   of  schedule  IIIA  controlled   substances  includes                                                               
substances  such as  barbiturates  and hashish,  to  name a  few.                                                               
Again, Version E  is proposing to add  the synthetic cannabinoids                                                               
listed therein, commonly  referred to as "K2" or  "Spice," to the                                                               
list of schedule IIIA controlled substances.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:43:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER, in response to  another question, concurred that the                                                               
penalty  associated  with  schedule  IIIA  controlled  substances                                                               
varies depending  on the amount  [and other circumstances].   For                                                               
example, if  a person possesses  less than [25  tablets, ampules,                                                               
or syrettes  containing a schedule IIIA  controlled substance, or                                                               
possesses  one  or  more preparations,  compounds,  mixtures,  or                                                               
substances  of  an aggregate  weight  of  less than  three  grams                                                               
containing]  a schedule  IIIA controlled  substance, the  penalty                                                               
would be a class A  misdemeanor; possessing greater amounts would                                                               
result in  a felony, as  would [manufacturing or]  delivering any                                                               
amount, [or possessing any amount  with the intent to manufacture                                                               
or deliver,  or possessing any  amount] within  certain distances                                                               
of locations that children frequent,  or delivering any amount to                                                               
children [under a certain age].                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KLOSTER, in  response to  further questions,  clarified that                                                               
marijuana  itself   is  listed  as  a   schedule  VIA  controlled                                                               
substance,  whereas  in   contrast,  the  synthetic  cannabinoids                                                               
listed in the  bill are considered to be  more dangerous, causing                                                               
far more severe reactions such  as hallucinations and death; that                                                               
both the U.S.  Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)  - which has                                                               
temporarily banned [five  of the compounds listed in HB  7] - and                                                               
the majority  of the other  states that have  enacted legislation                                                               
to  ban  synthetic  cannabinoids  have  included  them  in  their                                                               
schedule  I controlled  substances' lists,  which are  similar to                                                               
Alaska's   schedule  IIA   controlled   substances'  list;   that                                                               
Version E would  result in the  same penalties as  those provided                                                               
for other  schedule IIIA controlled  substances; that  the prices                                                               
of the  synthetic cannabinoids listed  in the bill  vary, ranging                                                               
from $30  to $500,  depending on  the type  and amount;  that the                                                               
synthetic  cannabinoids listed  in  the bill  are available  both                                                               
over  the  Internet  and  in  some local  stores;  and  that  the                                                               
Anchorage assembly has voted to ban such substances.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO  indicated  his  belief  that  HB  7  would  not  be                                                               
affecting "normal" commerce.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:48:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
QUINLAN  STEINER,  Director,   Central  Office,  Public  Defender                                                               
Agency  (PDA), Department  of Administration  (DOA), acknowledged                                                               
the  change  proposed  by  Version  E;  cautioned  that  even  as                                                               
schedule  IIIA  controlled substances,  delivery  of  one of  the                                                               
synthetic cannabinoids  listed in the  bill [to someone  under 19                                                               
years of age who is at  least three years younger than the person                                                               
delivering it] would result in  that person being charged with an                                                               
unclassified  felony  for the  crime  of  misconduct involving  a                                                               
controlled  substance in  the first  degree;  and indicated  that                                                               
when  scheduling  controlled   substances,  establishing  a  good                                                               
public  record can  promote parity  and fairness  of outcome  and                                                               
process  when  such  cases  are   prosecuted.    In  response  to                                                               
questions, he  stressed the  importance of  scheduling controlled                                                               
substances  appropriately and  of creating  a public  record that                                                               
includes  factual  documentation,   rather  than  just  anecdotal                                                               
testimony, regarding a particular  substance's effects.  In terms                                                               
of scheduling, treating a particular  substance more harshly than                                                               
other substances  with more severe effects  creates a credibility                                                               
problem  within the  criminal justice  system.   In  terms of  at                                                               
least putting a stop to  the sale of these synthetic cannabinoids                                                               
by local  stores, adding  them to any  schedule would  serve that                                                               
purpose, he concluded.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:54:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DENNIS  A.  WHEELER,  Municipal   Attorney,  Department  of  Law,                                                               
Municipality of Anchorage (MOA), said  that the MOA supports HB 7                                                               
and the senate companion bill - SB  17 - but at this time doesn't                                                               
necessarily support  adding the  synthetic cannabinoids  named in                                                               
the  bill  to the  lower,  schedule  IIIA controlled  substances'                                                               
list, as Version  E proposes, because their effects  are far more                                                               
serious than those of other  schedule IIIA controlled substances;                                                               
rather, the effects  of the synthetic cannabinoids  listed in the                                                               
bill are  more in  line with those  of the  controlled substances                                                               
currently found in schedule IIA.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:55:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  MESSICK,   Assistant  Municipal   Prosecutor,  Criminal                                                               
Division,  Department of  Law, Municipality  of Anchorage  (MOA),                                                               
explained  that  about  100   synthetic  cannabinoids  have  been                                                               
developed, though not all have  psychoactive properties, and only                                                               
about 7  of them are  being referred to as  "K2" or "Spice."   In                                                               
its pure form,  a synthetic cannabinoid is a white  powder - just                                                               
like cocaine  - that is  then dissolved, usually in  acetone, and                                                               
then  sprayed onto  some other  substance,  generally some  green                                                               
leafy substance  so as to  be marketed as  synthetic [marijuana].                                                               
The  [researchers]  who  developed these  synthetic  cannabinoids                                                               
were trying to come up with  a compound that contained all of the                                                               
medicinally-desirable  effects  of  THC  but   none  of  the  bad                                                               
effects.  They found, however,  that in addition to affecting the                                                               
body, synthetic cannabinoids  bind to the receptors  in the brain                                                               
with up to  800 times the potency of THC,  and so abandoned their                                                               
work - after  getting as far as testing the  compounds on animals                                                               
- and published their findings.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. MESSICK suggested that because  synthetic cannabinoids have a                                                               
lot  of  similarities  with  lysergic  acid  diethylamide  (LSD),                                                               
phencyclidine  (PCP),  and  methamphetamine -  all  schedule  IIA                                                               
controlled substances and all also  manmade - those listed in the                                                               
bill  should  also  be  classified  as  schedule  IIA  controlled                                                               
substances.    Also,  the manufacturing  processes  of  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  are very  inconsistent, thereby  leading to  a very                                                               
unpredictable  range of  symptoms.   Although marijuana  has some                                                               
legitimate  medical use,  the synthetic  cannabinoids [listed  in                                                               
the bill]  - as well as  LSD, PCP, and methamphetamine  - have no                                                               
legitimate  use  and  are considered  to  be  "unknown  cyclics,"                                                               
meaning  they affect  users differently  and very  unpredictably.                                                               
For  example, some  people may  just  have hallucinations,  while                                                               
others  may become  violent, and  it's very  common for  users to                                                               
dissociate from  pain; also, some  people may just  become really                                                               
relaxed,  or they  may lose  consciousness, or  they may  go into                                                               
convulsions.  There is  no way to predict how a  user is going to                                                               
be affected,  even from one  dose to the  next.  All  such cyclic                                                               
drugs  pose an  incredible  danger to  law enforcement  officers,                                                               
emergency medical responders, and  anyone attempting to deal with                                                               
those who are under the influence of such drugs.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:00:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MESSICK noted  that in contrast, marijuana and  hashish - all                                                               
naturally-occurring - affect users  in similar, predictable ways;                                                               
users can  become tired, lazy, hungry,  euphoric, relaxed, happy,                                                               
funny, but they  won't actually "overdose."   However, that's not                                                               
the case with the synthetic cannabinoids  listed in the bill - or                                                               
LSD, PCP,  or methamphetamine,  for that  matter; an  overdose of                                                               
synthetic cannabinoids can result in  a loss of consciousness and                                                               
even  death.   Furthermore, the  [federal poison  control center]                                                               
reports  that the  symptoms of  synthetic  cannabinoids are  much                                                               
more  like  those  of  methamphetamine  and  PCP  than  those  of                                                               
marijuana; symptoms  include very rapid heart  rate - tachycardia                                                               
-   elevated   blood   pressure,   dilated   pupils,   delusions,                                                               
hallucinations,  and  [seemingly]   super-human  strength,  which                                                               
raises  safety  concerns.    Law   enforcement  agencies  -  both                                                               
nationwide and  locally - report  that the symptoms  of synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  are more  similar  to  those of  LSD  and PCP,  but                                                               
acknowledge  that   they  can  also  resemble   the  symptoms  of                                                               
methamphetamine.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MESSICK relayed  that the  MOA could  provide the  committee                                                               
with documentation  from the  Anchorage Police  Department (APD),                                                               
the  Anchorage   Fire  Department   and  their  medics   and  EMS                                                               
personnel,  school  resource  officers, parents,  and  other  law                                                               
enforcement agencies across the  nation; furthermore, in what she                                                               
referred  to  as a  "wet"  laboratory,  tests were  conducted  on                                                               
subjects  who'd  been dosed  with  very,  very small  amounts  of                                                               
synthetic    cannabinoids,   and    she   could    provide   that                                                               
[documentation] as  well.   She, too, remarked  that the  DEA has                                                               
temporarily banned  possession of  [five of the  compounds listed                                                               
in HB  7] and is considering  adding them to the  federal list of                                                               
schedule  I   controlled  substances.    Symptoms   of  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  that  raise   safety  concerns,  particularly  when                                                               
someone  attempts   to  drive  under   the  influence   of  these                                                               
compounds, include  what's sometimes  referred to as  a "hundred-                                                               
yard stare" [wherein the  person becomes dissociated; synesthesia                                                               
-  a  mixing  of  the  senses;  dilated  pupils;  disorientation;                                                               
incoherency; poor physical and  mental coordination; memory loss;                                                               
flashbacks;  [seemingly] super-human  strength; combative/violent                                                               
behavior; delusions;  over excitement; convulsions;  [and death].                                                               
Again, those  are not the  symptoms that [typically]  result from                                                               
marijuana use.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:04:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MESSICK indicated  that potential problems with  the bill are                                                               
related  to  the   fact  that  there  are   about  100  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  but  [the  DEA   and  various  agencies  conducting                                                               
research on  this issue] have only  identified 7 of them,  and so                                                               
manufacturers, in anticipation of legislation  such as HB 7, [are                                                               
already] packaging analog compounds,  which would affect the body                                                               
similarly  but   their  chemical  structure  would   be  slightly                                                               
different and thus might not be  covered by the bill as currently                                                               
written.   Furthermore, manufacturers  could start using  some of                                                               
the  alternate  recipes  that  were   discarded  by  the  initial                                                               
researchers.   Noting that  the list  of schedule  IIA controlled                                                               
substances already contains  language addressing analog compounds                                                               
of PCP, she recommended inserting  similar language pertaining to                                                               
synthetic  cannabinoids into  the bill.    On the  issue of  what                                                               
other  states are  doing with  regard to  synthetic cannabinoids,                                                               
she relayed that some states  are treating synthetic cannabinoids                                                               
just like marijuana,  though in those states  marijuana itself is                                                               
treated differently  than it is  in Alaska, more along  the lines                                                               
of  how  Alaska   treats  its  schedule  IIA   or  schedule  IIIA                                                               
controlled substances;  that some  states are  treating synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids as warranting felony charges  just like PCP and LSD;                                                               
and  that some  states have  listed synthetic  cannabinoids in  a                                                               
schedule equivalent to Alaska's schedule IIIA.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  questioned why  the  bill  only lists  10                                                               
synthetic  cannabinoids,  expressing  concern that  as  currently                                                               
written, the bill might not accomplish its intended goal.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MESSICK  said  she  doesn't  know  why  the  bill  lists  10                                                               
synthetic  cannabinoids,  ventured  that  perhaps  some  of  them                                                               
aren't as psychoactive as the  others, and opined that having the                                                               
bill be as comprehensive as  possible would be the best approach.                                                               
In  response to  other questions,  she reiterated  that it's  the                                                               
MOA's  preference for  the synthetic  cannabinoids listed  in the                                                               
bill to  be added to schedule  IIA rather than to  schedule IIIA,                                                               
because  they share  more  of the  characteristics  of the  other                                                               
drugs  already  listed  as schedule  IIA  controlled  substances;                                                               
offered her  belief that a  homologue, [which is referred  to and                                                               
defined  in  Version E,]  is  not  the  same  as an  analog;  and                                                               
reiterated her  recommendation that the bill  include a reference                                                               
to analogs.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:11:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GERALD LUCKHAUPT,  Assistant Revisor, Legislative  Legal Counsel,                                                               
Legislative  Legal  and  Research Services,  Legislative  Affairs                                                               
Agency (LAA),  speaking as  the drafter if  HB 7,  indicated that                                                               
the term  "analog" isn't used in  Alaska's controlled substances'                                                               
schedules to mean similar substances,  and that no state has thus                                                               
far  been successful  at doing  so.   The bill  instead uses  the                                                               
terms "salts" -  which are what's left after  hydrogen atoms have                                                               
been removed  from particular compounds  - and "isomers"  - which                                                               
mirror particular  compounds; under  Alaska law, those  terms are                                                               
considered to mean  the same drug since, for the  most part, they                                                               
have the same effect.  The  courts have already found those terms                                                               
to  be more  proper, and  the federal  government has  used those                                                               
terms  with success.   He  then  pointed out  that the  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  listed  in the  bill  aren't  marijuana and  aren't                                                               
anything like  it.  In  Alaska, the definition of  marijuana does                                                               
not include its active ingredient -  THC - nor is THC included as                                                               
part of the definition of marijuana under the federal schedules.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT relayed that the  Alaska Supreme Court, in Ravin v.                                                             
State, determined that  THC should be considered  a separate drug                                                             
because it  is so much  more powerful -  at least 100  times more                                                               
powerful -  than marijuana itself,  and that a person  would have                                                               
to  use  approximately 40,000  normal  doses  of marijuana  -  or                                                               
perhaps as  many as  400 normal  doses of  THC -  at one  time in                                                               
order  to cause  death.   In  contrast, it  only  takes about  30                                                               
normal doses  of cocaine  used at  one time to  cause death.   He                                                               
ventured that  one rationale for  proposing to add  the synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  referred to  in the  bill to  the list  of schedule                                                               
IIIA controlled  substances is  that that's  where all  the other                                                               
THC compounds  - other  than marijuana itself  - are  listed; the                                                               
naturally-occurring compounds  currently listed in  schedule IIIA                                                               
are hashish,  hashish oil, and  THC, and the  synthetic compounds                                                               
are  parahexyl,  dronabinol, and  nabilone,  which  are all  very                                                               
similar to  the synthetic  cannabinoids listed in  the bill.   He                                                               
then  recounted his  understanding of  which types  of drugs  are                                                               
currently listed in which of  Alaska's schedules, and which types                                                               
of drugs are listed in some  of the federal schedules, and of how                                                               
the federal schedules vary  considerably from Alaska's schedules,                                                               
particularly with regard to marijuana itself.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:20:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT  relayed that some  states which  include marijuana                                                               
in their schedules of most  dangerous drugs address the fact that                                                               
marijuana isn't as dangerous by  providing an exception for it in                                                               
their sentencing  statutes such  that crimes  involving marijuana                                                               
are sentenced  at a lower  level than crimes involving  the other                                                               
drugs  in those  schedules.    He characterized  this  as a  more                                                               
complicated approach  for dealing with marijuana  than that taken                                                               
by Alaska,  which, partially in  response to the  Ravin decision,                                                             
simply created  a specific, separate  schedule for  marijuana and                                                               
thus specific  sentencing.  In  terms of deciding  which schedule                                                               
should contain the synthetic cannabinoids  listed in the bill, he                                                               
concurred  with  the  PDA that  the  legislature  should  provide                                                               
supporting  documentation for  its  decision, particularly  given                                                               
that  normally Alaska  doesn't schedule  a particular  drug until                                                               
after  the  federal   government  has  done  so.     The  federal                                                               
government  has only  just started  the  scheduling process  with                                                               
regard  to the  synthetic cannabinoids  listed in  the bill,  and                                                               
then only  for 5 of  them, though it  had already scheduled  1 of                                                               
the others  listed in the bill  several years ago.   He indicated                                                               
that  he and  the  sponsor chose  the  10 synthetic  cannabinoids                                                               
listed in  the bill based  on which synthetic  cannabinoids other                                                               
states have addressed,  with Missouri having addressed  all 10 of                                                               
them.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LUCKHAUPT,  in  response  to  questions,  acknowledged  that                                                               
although  Alaska's  scheduling  and  treatment  of  marijuana  is                                                               
inconsistent with  federal law, several other  states also differ                                                               
from the federal government with  regard to how they schedule and                                                               
treat marijuana, and indicated that  use of the terms "salts" and                                                               
"isomer" is necessary  to address compounds that  have a slightly                                                               
different chemical  structure from those currently  listed in the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:27:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MESSICK,  upon being  asked  to  comment, pointed  out  that                                                               
[counter to what Mr. Luckhaupt  had indicated,] the term "analog"                                                               
is used  in existing AS  11.71.150(b)(17) -  part of the  list of                                                               
schedule  IIA  controlled  substances  - and  relayed  that  some                                                               
merchants are already selling  synthetic cannabinoids that aren't                                                               
those the  DEA [has temporarily  banned] and those  merchants are                                                               
providing their customers with documentation  to that effect.  On                                                               
the issue  of which  schedule to  add the  synthetic cannabinoids                                                               
listed  in  the bill  to,  she  pointed  out that  the  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  currently   listed  as  schedule   IIIA  controlled                                                               
substances  have all  been tested  [on  humans] and  subsequently                                                               
approved  for human  consumption,  whereas [those  listed in  the                                                               
bill] have not been tested on humans,  and so no one has any idea                                                               
what effects those compounds will have on the human body.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  questioned whether it  would suffice to  simply list                                                               
as many  [synthetic cannabinoids]  as can be  found and  then add                                                               
the phrase, "or similar drugs with similar effects".                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. MESSICK said it seems that  such a phrase would probably be a                                                               
bit   too  broad   and   thus   draw  legitimate   constitutional                                                               
objections.  She characterized  the synthetic cannabinoids listed                                                               
in the bill as being different  from a lot of other drugs because                                                               
they  target  a  segment  of  society  that  might  not  normally                                                               
experiment  with   drugs.    What  makes   the  listed  compounds                                                               
attractive  to such  people  is a  combination  of three  things:                                                               
these   compounds  haven't   yet  been   criminalized;  synthetic                                                               
materials  are oftentimes  viewed  as being  an improvement  over                                                               
naturally-occurring  materials; and  the  herbal substances  that                                                               
these compounds  are being  sprayed on  are oftentimes  viewed as                                                               
being  benign.   In  other words,  the message  being  sent as  a                                                               
result of these three factors  is that synthetic cannabinoids are                                                               
better  than marijuana  but  not as  harmful  and the  government                                                               
doesn't care  about them.   Classifying  the listed  compounds as                                                               
schedule IIA controlled substances  - appropriately, she opined -                                                               
would instead  send a very  clear message to Alaskans  that these                                                               
compounds are very, very dangerous.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG also  noted that  the term  "analog" is                                                               
currently being used in AS 11.71.150(b)(17).                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LUCKHAUPT  clarified  that AS  11.71.150(b)(17)  lists  four                                                               
specific drugs  - four  specific analogs of  PCP; that  there has                                                               
never been a  successful prosecution of any  [analogs] other than                                                               
those  specifically  listed;  and  that these  four  analogs  are                                                               
specified in  Alaska statute  as a result  of their  first having                                                               
been scheduled by the federal government.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:34:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WALLACE  H. TETLOW,  Attorney at  Law, Vice  President, Board  of                                                               
Directors,  Alaska   Association  of  Criminal   Defense  Lawyers                                                               
(AKACDL),  indicated that  the AKACDL  has concerns  about adding                                                               
the  synthetic cannabinoids  named in  the  bill to  the list  of                                                               
schedule IIA controlled substances  and thereby making possession                                                               
of synthetic  cannabinoids a class  C felony,  particularly given                                                               
that the  majority of  those who  use synthetic  cannabinoids are                                                               
[generally  youths]  ages  14-27,  and given  that  in  contrast,                                                               
possession  of real  marijuana  or  actual THC  might  only be  a                                                               
class B misdemeanor or  a class A misdemeanor,  respectively.  He                                                               
offered his understanding that  supporting documentation seems to                                                               
indicate that  the effects of  the synthetic  cannabinoids listed                                                               
in the bill  are similar to those of THC,  and that there doesn't                                                               
seem to be  any information suggesting that  the listed synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  ought to  be  treated more  harshly  than the  real                                                               
thing, particularly  given the serious  impacts of  being charged                                                               
and convicted of a felony at a young age.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  explained  that  Version E  of  HB  7  is                                                               
instead proposing to add the  synthetic cannabinoids named in the                                                               
bill to the list of schedule IIIA controlled substances.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. TETLOW,  in response to  a question, indicated  that although                                                               
that would  be acceptable, the  AKACDL's preference would  be for                                                               
the synthetic cannabinoids listed in the  bill to be added to the                                                               
same schedule  that includes  marijuana -  schedule VIA  - noting                                                               
that  some   states  have  already  chosen   to  treat  synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids the  same way they  treat marijuana, states  such as                                                               
Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:41:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TONY  NEWMAN,  Social  Services   Program  Officer,  Division  of                                                               
Juvenile Justice  (DJJ), Department  of Health &  Social Services                                                               
(DHSS),  said  that  although  the   DJJ's  counterparts  in  law                                                               
enforcement  have  been picking  up  minors  [who are  under  the                                                               
influence   or  who   are  in   possession]   of  the   synthetic                                                               
cannabinoids  listed in  the bill,  the DJJ  hasn't received  any                                                               
referrals, and  so doesn't yet  know what  kind of impact  on its                                                               
workload enactment of  HB 7 is going  to have.  The  DJJ would be                                                               
managing  such youth  in the  same manner  that it  manages youth                                                               
picked  up for  other controlled  substance crimes,  however, and                                                               
this  could   involve  a  range  of   activities,  anything  from                                                               
referring the youth to substance  abuse treatment, to petitioning                                                               
the  court for  a  delinquency adjudication,  which is  different                                                               
than  a conviction  in  the adult  justice  system and  therefore                                                               
won't have  the same  impact.  In  conclusion, he  indicated that                                                               
the DHSS/DJJ has no position on HB 7.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:43:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  THOMPSON, Sergeant,  Fairbanks  Police Department  (FPD),                                                               
City of Fairbanks,  expressed support for HB 7,  and relayed that                                                               
there  have been  cases in  which law  enforcement was  unable to                                                               
prosecute  someone  to  the  fullest extent  of  the  law  simply                                                               
because the  synthetic cannabinoids listed  in the bill  were not                                                               
yet illegal.   In  one such  case, the  driver responsible  for a                                                               
motor  vehicle accident  admitted to  smoking "Spice"  and to  it                                                               
being a contributing factor in  the accident, but law enforcement                                                               
only charged the  driver with reckless driving,  rather than with                                                               
driving under  the influence (DUI), though  witnesses stated that                                                               
the driver  was actually passed  out when the  accident occurred,                                                               
and the  responding officer described the  driver as experiencing                                                               
seizures and  disorientation.  As  long as such  compounds aren't                                                               
listed as  controlled substances, law enforcement  can anticipate                                                               
more such  instances occurring.   In  conclusion, he  opined that                                                               
the synthetic cannabinoids listed in  the bill pose a significant                                                               
public  safety  hazard  -  particularly   when  used  by  someone                                                               
driving, given  that they  can cause  seizures, unresponsiveness,                                                               
disorientation,  hallucinations,  and  psychotic episodes  -  and                                                               
asked  that  HB 7  be  moved  through  the  process in  a  timely                                                               
fashion.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO,  after ascertaining  that  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 7.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  indicated favor with Version  E's proposal                                                               
to add the  synthetic cannabinoids named in the  bill to Alaska's                                                               
list of schedule IIIA controlled substances.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:49:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LUCKHAUPT,   in  response   to  questions,   explained  that                                                               
Version E is  proposing to  add inclusionary  language pertaining                                                               
to  salts and  isomers to  AS  11.71.160(f) in  order to  address                                                               
compounds that have a slightly  different chemical structure from                                                               
those specifically  named in the bill;  that similar inclusionary                                                               
language is  already used in  AS 11.71.150(b) and in  the federal                                                               
schedules;  that  the  odd  spacing   associated  with  the  last                                                               
compound the  bill is proposing  to add  is merely a  function of                                                               
formatting;  and that  the findings  outlined in  AS 11.71.120(c)                                                               
were intended  to serve as  guidelines for a  proposed Controlled                                                               
Substances Advisory Committee to  use when determining the proper                                                               
scheduling  of  a  particular  substance,  though  that  proposed                                                               
committee was never actually formed.   The synthetic cannabinoids                                                               
listed in  the bill  are [forms  of] THC,  and the  committee has                                                               
heard testimony  regarding their  effects and that  those effects                                                               
are similar to  those of the other compounds  currently listed in                                                               
Schedule  IIIA;  this  should  be  sufficient,  he  ventured,  to                                                               
justify  adding  these  synthetic  cannabinoids to  the  list  of                                                               
schedule IIIA  controlled substances, though it's  always good to                                                               
provide as much legislative history  as possible with these types                                                               
of bills because  it could prove helpful to the  courts later on.                                                               
In  response  to  another question,  Mr.  Luckhaupt  indicated  a                                                               
belief that the administration has  been remiss in complying with                                                               
AS  11.71.120(b), which  says,  "If  a substance  is  added as  a                                                               
controlled  substance  under  federal  law,  the  governor  shall                                                               
introduce legislation in accordance with the federal law."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  whether,  if HB  7 becomes  law,                                                               
merchants currently selling  synthetic cannabinoids could validly                                                               
claim unlawful taking and thereby receive compensation.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT opined that they could not.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:58:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RODNEY   DIAL,  Lieutenant,   Deputy  Commander,   A  Detachment,                                                               
Division of  Alaska State Troopers,  Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS),  in  response to  questions,  indicated  that neither  the                                                               
bill's  immediate   effective  date  nor  the   Scientific  Crime                                                               
Detection Laboratory's  ("Crime Lab") current state  of readiness                                                               
or lack thereof would negatively impact the DPS.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER   referred  to  the  DPS's   fiscal  note,                                                               
expressed a concern regarding its  proposal to add a new position                                                               
to the Crime  Lab, and surmised that the  House Finance Committee                                                               
would be considering that particular issue further.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON,  referring  to   a  USA  Today  article                                                             
included in  members' packets, said  he doesn't believe  that the                                                               
legislature  has  enough information  yet  to  add the  synthetic                                                               
compound being labeled  as "bath salts" but being used  as a drug                                                               
to Alaska's controlled substances schedules.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG questioned  whether  the  title of  the                                                               
bill should be  broadened in order to allow for  the inclusion of                                                               
such a compound at some point.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  expressed a preference  for moving  HB 7 as  is, and                                                               
suggested that  such a compound  would be better addressed  via a                                                               
separate bill.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:02:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  moved to  report  the  proposed CS  for                                                               
HB 7, Version  27-LS0044\E, Luckhaupt,  2/9/11, out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There  being no objection, CSHB 7(JUD)  was reported from                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB7 Supporting Documents-Report Leg Research 02-08-11.pdf HJUD 2/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Anchorage Spice PowerPoint 02-08-11.ppt HJUD 2/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Letter Mayor Sullivan 02-08-11.pdf HJUD 2/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Press Release DEA 11-24-10.pdf HJUD 2/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Draft CS Version E 02-09-11.pdf HJUD 2/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB80 Fiscal Note-LAW-CRIM-02-09-11.pdf HJUD 2/11/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 80