Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

02/04/2011 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
01:07:19 PM Start
01:07:47 PM Overview(s): Department of Corrections
01:51:58 PM HB7
02:58:08 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Department Overview: TELECONFERENCED
Corrections
*+ HB 7 SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS AS SCHEDULE IIA TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 4, 2011                                                                                        
                           1:07 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Steve Thompson, Vice Chair                                                                                       
Representative Wes Keller                                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                     
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
OVERVIEW(S):  DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 7                                                                                                                
"An Act classifying certain synthetic cannabinoids as schedule                                                                  
IIA controlled substances; and providing for an effective date."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 7                                                                                                                    
SHORT TITLE: SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS AS SCHEDULE IIA                                                                             
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MUNOZ, HERRON, KERTTULA, GATTO,                                                                   
LYNN, PRUITT                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/11       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/04/11       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH SCHMIDT, Commissioner                                                                                                    
Department of Corrections (DOC)                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented the overview of  the Department of                                                            
Corrections.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARMEN GUTIERREZ, J.D., Deputy Commissioner                                                                                     
Prisoner Rehabilitation and Re-entry                                                                                            
Office of the Commissioner - Anchorage                                                                                          
Department of Corrections (DOC)                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Assisted  with  the  presentation  of  the                                                            
overview of the Department of Corrections.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CATHY MUNOZ                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   As one of  the bill's joint  prime sponsors,                                                            
presented HB 7.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Cathy Munoz                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Assisted  with the presentation  of HB  7 on                                                            
behalf of one  of the bill's joint prime  sponsors, Representative                                                              
Munoz.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT URATA, M.D.                                                                                                              
Valley Medical Care                                                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided comments during discussion  of HB 7                                                            
and asked that it be passed.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ORIN DYM, Forensic Laboratory Supervisor                                                                                        
Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory ("Crime Lab")                                                                             
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded to questions during  discussion of                                                            
HB 7.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                      
Legal Services Section                                                                                                          
Criminal Division                                                                                                               
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:     Provided  comments   and  responded   to                                                            
questions during discussion of HB 7.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
RANDAHL HAHN, Captain, Commander                                                                                                
Alaska Bureau of Investigations (ABI)                                                                                           
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                                                                               
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Responded  to questions  during  discussion                                                            
of HB 7.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH RIPLEY, Executive Director                                                                                            
Mat-Su Health Foundation;                                                                                                       
Chair                                                                                                                           
Mat-Su Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition                                                                                     
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Provided  comments  during  discussion  of                                                            
HB 7.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
J. KATE BURKHART, Executive Director                                                                                            
Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ABADA)                                                                             
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided comments  on behalf  of the  ABADA                                                            
during discussion of HB 7.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DENNIS A. WHEELER, Municipal Attorney                                                                                           
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Municipality of Anchorage (MOA)                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Provided  comments  during  discussion  of                                                            
HB 7.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:07:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR STEVE  THOMPSON called  the  House Judiciary  Standing                                                            
Committee  meeting   to  order  at  1:07  p.m.     Representatives                                                              
Thompson, Gruenberg,  Keller, and Pruitt were present  at the call                                                              
to  order.    Representatives  Holmes  and  Lynn  arrived  as  the                                                              
meeting was in progress.  Representative Gatto was excused.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
^Overview(s):  Department of Corrections                                                                                        
            Overview(s):  Department of Corrections                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:07:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  THOMPSON announced  that the  first order  of business                                                              
would be an overview of the Department of Corrections.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:08:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH  SCHMIDT, Commissioner,  Department  of Corrections  (DOC),                                                              
said  that the mission  of  the DOC is  to enhance  the safety  of                                                              
Alaska's    communities,   and    provide   secure    confinement,                                                              
reformative  programs,  and  a  process  of  supervised  community                                                              
reintegration.   The DOC employs  1,500 people, has  12 facilities                                                              
throughout  state, now has  1,000 prisoners  in Colorado,  and has                                                              
experienced   consistent   growth   in  its   prison   population.                                                              
Providing  secure  confinement   constitutes  the  most  expensive                                                              
aspect of  what the  DOC does, and  so the DOC  has found  ways to                                                              
keep the public  safe in a much more cost-effective  and efficient                                                              
manner while still  providing for inevitable growth.   The DOC has                                                              
13  probation offices  around the  state; 15  contract jails  with                                                              
159  beds  in  rural communities;  789  halfway-house  beds  -  or                                                              
community  residential center  beds; 290  prisoners on  electronic                                                              
monitoring; a total  of about 5,900 offenders located  both in and                                                              
out of  state in either secure  facilities, halfway houses,  or on                                                              
electronic    monitoring;     and    about     6,000    supervised                                                              
probationers/parolees.   The DOC  processes 38,000 "bookings"  per                                                              
year - representing  22,000 individuals - and supervises  1 out of                                                              
every 36 adults in Alaska.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  SCHMIDT  explained  that  the DOC's  prison  beds  -                                                              
which cost  close to  $50,000 per  year per bed  to operate  - are                                                              
reserved  for  offenders  who are  actively  dangerous.    Halfway                                                              
houses and  electronic monitoring are  used for offenders  who are                                                              
still serving  time but  are about to  reenter the community,  and                                                              
allow  such offenders  to maintain  a job,  sobriety support,  and                                                              
housing,  all  of  which  have been  shown  to  reduce  recidivism                                                              
rates.   In  fact, 95  percent of  those  who utilized  electronic                                                              
monitoring were  able to finish their sentence  without committing                                                              
either  a technical  violation or  a new  crime, and  the other  5                                                              
percent only  committed technical  violations.  He  then indicated                                                              
that  the  DOC's  residential  substance  abuse  treatment  (RSAT)                                                              
program [is  being] changed to account  for the fact  that between                                                              
felons  and misdemeanants,  the  average sentence  length is  only                                                              
160 days;  by offering  several 90-day  and 120-day RSAT  programs                                                              
over the  course of a year  instead of one year-long  RSAT program                                                              
- which,  incidentally, also has  a year-long waiting list  - more                                                              
of  the  prison  population  could   be  served.    Some  form  of                                                              
substance abuse  was a factor  in the cases  of between 80  and 90                                                              
percent of the prison population.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:15:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER   SCHMIDT   relayed  that   because   there  is   the                                                              
expectation  that  offenders  will  make changes  in  their  lives                                                              
while they  are incarcerated  so that  they won't  later go  on to                                                              
create  more victims,  in addition  to RSAT  programs, another  of                                                              
the  DOC's focuses  is on  high school  equivalency education  and                                                              
vocational training,  and on ensuring  that offenders  have proper                                                              
identification  (ID) when  they  leave a  facility, since  without                                                              
ID, there is very  little chance that a released  offender will be                                                              
able to  find a  place to  live or get  a job.   The DOC  releases                                                              
close to 300  felony offenders every  month, and so has  a duty to                                                              
the community  to ensure, whenever  possible, that  those released                                                              
are  better people  than when  they entered  the criminal  justice                                                              
system; of course, such offenders have to want to change.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  SCHMIDT then  referred to [a  pilot program  called]                                                              
Probationer  Accountability  with  Certain  Enforcement  (PACE)  -                                                              
which was modeled  after a program in Hawaii -  and explained that                                                              
it was started  in July and designed to address  recidivism issues                                                              
for  probationers/parolees,  50 percent  of  whom  were ending  up                                                              
being  incarcerated  again on  new  charges for  crimes  committed                                                              
while  waiting  for a  court  process,  or  for  a warrant  to  be                                                              
served, or  to get scheduled for  a hearing, or something  else of                                                              
that  nature.   Probationers/parolees,  he  surmised, were  simply                                                              
giving up on  complying with their probation/parole  requirements.                                                              
Under  the   PACE  program,  however,  probationers/parolees   who                                                              
reoffend are immediately  re-incarcerated - often  for far shorter                                                              
periods  of time  than if  their re-incarceration  were delayed  -                                                              
thereby providing  them with an  incentive to not reoffend  and to                                                              
not stop  trying to comply.   This PACE  pilot program  has proven                                                              
to be successful,  producing results similar to  Hawaii's program.                                                              
The DOC,  therefore, will  be seeking to  expand the  PACE program                                                              
to Fairbanks, with  a focus on misdemeanor domestic  violence (DV)                                                              
offenders.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:21:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER SCHMIDT  reported that construction of  the new Goose                                                              
Creek Correctional  Center is about 75 percent  completed; that it                                                              
is expected  to be ready  for occupancy  in March 2012;  that only                                                              
about 30 minimum-security  prisoners will be housed  there for the                                                              
first  four  months; that  upon  completion,  it will  have  1,500                                                              
medium-security  beds;  and  that  about  a year  after  this  new                                                              
facility  becomes fully  operational, the  DOC should  be able  to                                                              
provide  the  legislature  with  accurate  statistics.    He  also                                                              
indicated that  asking rural communities  to provide  treatment to                                                              
offenders returning  home could  be one  way of addressing  future                                                              
prisoner-population   growth;  currently,  offenders   from  rural                                                              
communities, once  they are released,  must remain in the  city in                                                              
order to  complete court-ordered  treatment and generally  must do                                                              
so without sufficient resources, often reoffending as a result.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  SCHMIDT then  relayed that  the Palmer  Correctional                                                              
Center can  house about 500  prisoners, both medium-  and minimum-                                                              
security  prisoners; that  the  Spring Creek  Correctional  Center                                                              
can house  maximum-security  prisoners; that  the cost of  housing                                                              
prisoners in the  Goose Creek Correctional Center  is estimated to                                                              
be about  $86/day; and  that the  Goose Creek Correctional  Center                                                              
will have its  own medical unit  - which should help keep  some of                                                              
the  DOC's "outside"  medical  costs down  -  and several  hundred                                                              
beds in  its "special management  unit" for "pretrial  people" and                                                              
prisoners who don't behave.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:26:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CARMEN    GUTIERREZ,   J.D.,    Deputy   Commissioner,    Prisoner                                                              
Rehabilitation  and   Re-entry,  Office  of  the   Commissioner  -                                                              
Anchorage,  Department of  Corrections  (DOC), said  that the  DOC                                                              
believes  that  Alaska's  high recidivism  rates  can  be  reduced                                                              
through  collaborative efforts,  and  relayed that  cost-effective                                                              
justice  requires  receiving good  value  for  money spent.    The                                                              
estimated  cost  of incarcerating  an  individual  in fiscal  year                                                              
2011  (FY 11)  is  $136/day,  or approximately  $50,000/year,  but                                                              
according  to  a   2007  Alaska  Judicial  Council   (AJC)  study,                                                              
"Criminal Recidivism  in Alaska", two  out of three  offenders get                                                              
arrested  again within  the first  three years  of their  release,                                                              
with most  getting arrested  within the  first year,  particularly                                                              
within the first  six months.  This means that for  the most part,                                                              
Alaska isn't  getting good  value for the  money it's  spending on                                                              
offenders.  Furthermore,  nationally, Alaska has  the 11th fastest                                                              
growing  prison  population.   For  example,  from 2000  to  2007,                                                              
Alaska's prison  population increased  by 106 prisoners  for every                                                              
100,000  Alaskans, whereas  nationally  the increase  was only  28                                                              
prisoners  for every 100,000  residents,  with 12 states  actually                                                              
experiencing  a  decrease  and  only  two  states  experiencing  a                                                              
greater increase than Alaska.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR.  GUTIERREZ mentioned  that the  new  Goose Creek  Correctional                                                              
Center  is  costing  $250  million  to build,  and  will  have  an                                                              
estimated annual  operating budget of  $50 million.   Referring to                                                              
a  handout  in members'  packets,  she  relayed that  since  2005,                                                              
generally  speaking, the  DOC's  prison population  has grown,  on                                                              
average, by  about 200 individuals  per year.  Such  growth cannot                                                              
be sustained, she opined, unless the DOC starts employing cost-                                                                 
effective  justice  measures,  particularly  given  that  as  more                                                              
people  are incarcerated,  more  people  will also  eventually  be                                                              
released.  For  example, during 2009, the DOC  released an average                                                              
of 295 convicted  felons every month, and this  number is expected                                                              
to  go  up in  future  years.    In [2008,  3,436  prisoners  were                                                              
released:   approximately 1,735]  in Anchorage, 290  in Fairbanks,                                                              
and 106  in Juneau.   According  to a study  conducted by  the Pew                                                              
Center  on the States  as part  of its  Public Safety  Performance                                                              
Project (PSPP),  in 1982, only  1 out of  every 90  adult Alaskans                                                              
was under  the jurisdiction of  the DOC, compared  to 1 out  of 36                                                              
in 2009.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:35:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR.  GUTIERREZ,   referring  to  page  3  of   the  aforementioned                                                              
handout,  noted that  it illustrates  that in  2009, less  than 50                                                              
percent  of  the  DOC's prison  population  was  incarcerated  for                                                              
offenses against the  person crimes.  On the  issue of recidivism,                                                              
she relayed,  the DOC has  determined that  much of what  works to                                                              
reduce   recidivism   -   housing,   employment,   mental   health                                                              
treatment,  substance  abuse  treatment,  positive peer  groups  -                                                              
falls beyond  the mandate of  the DOC, and  so the DOC,  under the                                                              
auspices  of the  Criminal Justice  Working Group  (CJWG) and  its                                                              
Alaska   Prisoner   Reentry   Task   Force,   has   been   working                                                              
collaboratively   with  the  Department   of  Labor   &  Workforce                                                              
Development (DLWD),  the Department of Health and  Social Services                                                              
(DHSS), the Department  of Education and Early  Development (EED),                                                              
the  Alaska Mental  Health  Trust  Authority (AMHTA),  the  Alaska                                                              
Housing Finance  Corporation (AHFC),  community stakeholders,  and                                                              
concerned/interested  citizens  to try  to  address Alaska's  high                                                              
recidivism  rates.     Other   collaborative  efforts   to  reduce                                                              
Alaska's  high recidivism  rates that  the DOC  has been  involved                                                              
with include a  five-year prisoner reentry strategic  plan - 2011-                                                              
2016  -  and, again,  the  aforementioned  successful  pilot  PACE                                                              
program, which  required the cooperation  of the  Anchorage Police                                                              
Department (APD),  the Alaska Court  System (ACS),  the Department                                                              
of  Law  (DOL),  and  the Public  Defender  Agency  (PDA).    When                                                              
everyone works  together, she proffered,  they can do  things that                                                              
truly  make  a difference,  and  this  constitutes  cost-effective                                                              
justice.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR.  GUTIERREZ,  referring  to pages  4-5  of  the  aforementioned                                                              
handout,  then provided  information about  successful steps  that                                                              
the State  of Texas  has taken  in its  efforts control  crime and                                                              
corrections'   costs,   including   collecting   data   and   then                                                              
developing  systematic  approaches  and  programs  based  on  that                                                              
data.   If Texas can do  it so successfully,  Alaska can do  so as                                                              
well,  she  opined, and  perhaps  thereby  avoid having  to  build                                                              
another new  prison in  the next  eight-nine years.   In  terms of                                                              
the next  steps that the DOC  could undertake, she  indicated that                                                              
in  addition  to  continuing  to  work  collaboratively  with  the                                                              
aforementioned   agencies/entities/groups  and  other   interested                                                              
parties,   and  continuing   to  obtain   information  about   new                                                              
approaches,  identifying the  factors that  drive Alaska's  prison                                                              
growth -  as Texas has done  - and raising public  awareness about                                                              
the  issues  the   state  is  facing  are  also   warranted.    In                                                              
conclusion, she  said, "For  every prisoner who  comes out  and is                                                              
successfully reintegrated  into his or her community,  we have one                                                              
less victim and  we have healthier [communities], and  that is the                                                              
goal of the Department of Corrections."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:47 p.m. to 1:51 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
         HB 7 - SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS AS SCHEDULE IIA                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:51:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR  THOMPSON 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."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:52:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CATHY MUNOZ,  Alaska  State Legislature,  speaking                                                              
as one  of HB 7's  joint prime sponsors,  explained that  the bill                                                              
would  classify certain  synthetic  cannabinoids  as schedule  IIA                                                              
controlled  substances, which  include  materials, compounds,  and                                                              
mixtures  that contain hallucinogenic  substances.   The  issue of                                                              
synthetic  cannabinoids was  first brought  to her attention,  she                                                              
relayed,  by a constituent  whose son  experienced severe  adverse                                                              
reactions when he  first experimented with a  substance containing                                                              
synthetic   cannabinoids.     Within  moments   of  inhaling   the                                                              
substance,  commonly referred  to  as "K2"  or  "Spice," he  began                                                              
vomiting, lost  his sense of  reality and  his ability to  walk or                                                              
talk, and  had violent  outbursts.   She then  read from  a letter                                                              
he'd  since written,  which  in  part read  [original  punctuation                                                              
provided]:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     ... I  lost control of my  legs that I couldn't  walk at                                                                   
     all.   I couldn't  talk.   I could  hear what I  thought                                                                   
     and what  I wanted to  say, but all  I was spitting  out                                                                   
     was gibberish.   This  went on for  what felt like  many                                                                   
     hours.    I  can remember  thinking  to  myself  that  I                                                                   
     wasn't  actually going  come out of  this craziness  and                                                                   
     this might  be how I end  up dying!  I  remember telling                                                                   
     my  brother to  call  911 and  remember  going into  the                                                                   
     ambulance and ending up in the hospital ....                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MUNOZ  relayed  that  she's  since  heard  similar                                                              
stories from  around Alaska  and other parts  of the  country, and                                                              
offered her  understanding that  to date,  nine other  states have                                                              
successfully enacted  laws banning synthetic cannabinoids  - which                                                              
have only just recently  been marketed in the U.S  - and that many                                                              
countries  in  Europe  have  already  taken  steps  to  ban  them,                                                              
including  Germany,  Sweden,  Russia,   and  England.    Synthetic                                                              
cannabinoids  are   primarily  made  in  China  and   Europe;  are                                                              
commonly  marketed as  incense  after being  mixed  with [a  leafy                                                              
substance]; are readily  available over the Internet  and in local                                                              
stores;   and  can   produce  reactions   similar   to  those   of                                                              
[tetrahydrocannabinol    (THC),   the    active   ingredient    in                                                              
marijuana], but  can also produce severely adverse  reactions such                                                              
as  hallucinations,   nausea,  vomiting,   agitation,   and  panic                                                              
attacks.   In  conclusion,  she indicated  that  there were  folks                                                              
available to speak in support of HB 7.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:55:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative  Cathy Munoz,  Alaska State                                                              
Legislature, speaking  on behalf  of Representative Munoz,  one of                                                              
the bill's  joint prime  sponsors, explained  that HB 7  would add                                                              
10 specific  compounds to AS 11.71.150(b)  - the list  of schedule                                                              
IIA controlled substances;  these are the compounds  that the U.S.                                                              
Drug Enforcement  Administration (DEA) and other  states have thus                                                              
far come  across.  In response  to comments and questions  about a                                                              
different  synthetic compound  being labeled  as "bath salts"  but                                                              
being used  as a drug, she  indicated that further  research would                                                              
be warranted before including such a compound in HB 7.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  asked what the rationale was  for proposing                                                              
to  add  synthetic  cannabinoids  to  the  list  of  schedule  IIA                                                              
controlled substances rather than to one of the other schedules.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER explained  that both the 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;  Alaska's   list  of                                                              
schedule IIA controlled  substances and those other  states' lists                                                              
of schedule I  controlled substances include  other hallucinogenic                                                              
drugs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES offered her  understanding that  while some                                                              
consider synthetic  cannabinoids to  be like other  hallucinogens,                                                              
others  consider them  to be  more like  marijuana, and  therefore                                                              
she is  questioning which schedule  would be the  most appropriate                                                              
to list them under.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.   KLOSTER  acknowledged   that   other   types  of   synthetic                                                              
marijuana, as  well as THC itself  - again, the  active ingredient                                                              
in   marijuana  -   are  listed   as   schedule  IIIA   controlled                                                              
substances,  and mentioned that  she has  spoken with  the drafter                                                              
about  instead adding  the  synthetic  cannabinoids  named in  the                                                              
bill  to the  list  of  schedule  IIIA controlled  substances,  if                                                              
that's what the committee would prefer.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG observed  that according to  information                                                              
from the  National Conference  of State  Legislatures included  in                                                              
members'  packets,  some states  provide  the same  penalties  for                                                              
crimes involving  synthetic cannabinoids  as for crimes  involving                                                              
marijuana.    In  contrast,  HB   7  would  provide  for  stronger                                                              
penalties.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:04:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KLOSTER  pointed out  that Alaska  simply schedules  its drugs                                                              
differently.   For  example, in  Alaska, marijuana  itself is  not                                                              
considered to  be very dangerous  and so  is listed as  a schedule                                                              
VIA  controlled substance,  whereas  research  indicates that  the                                                              
synthetic   cannabinoids  listed   in  HB   7  behave  more   like                                                              
hallucinogens  -  schedule IIA  controlled  substances  - and  are                                                              
thus  more  harmful  to  people;   no  one  has  died  from  using                                                              
marijuana, but some  have died from using  synthetic cannabinoids.                                                              
She again indicated  that listing such compounds  as schedule IIIA                                                              
controlled  substances, instead,  would  be an  option, if  that's                                                              
the  committee's  preference;  again,  other  types  of  synthetic                                                              
marijuana  are   already  listed   as  schedule  IIIA   controlled                                                              
substances.    In   response  to  a  question,   she  offered  her                                                              
understanding  that  possession   of  a  schedule  IIA  controlled                                                              
substance  would be  a class  C  felony, whereas  possession of  a                                                              
schedule   IIIA  controlled   substance   would  be   a  class   A                                                              
misdemeanor;  she  agreed to  research  whether any  other  states                                                              
have made possessing synthetic cannabinoids a felony.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:06:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  URATA,  M.D.,  Valley  Medical  Care,  in  response  to  a                                                              
question,  relayed  that  he'd  attended  a person  who'd  used  a                                                              
synthetic cannabinoid; he elaborated:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The  gentleman presented  in  quite a  bit of  distress.                                                                   
     ...  He was  disoriented, hallucinating,  and his  blood                                                                   
     pressure was extremely  high - 180 over 105.   His pulse                                                                   
     rate  was 139  when  he arrived,  and  [he] looked  very                                                                   
     much like he  was having some sort of toxic  reaction to                                                                   
     something, and  we couldn't ... get a history  from him,                                                                   
     but his  friends were  there to give  us the history  of                                                                   
     ingestion   with   this   new  drug   ...   [that   was]                                                                   
     surprisingly  easily-available to him  - I think  it was                                                                   
     purchased  at a [local]  store or  something like  that.                                                                   
     So  I thought  that that  was quite  a dangerous  thing.                                                                   
     We   actually   admitted   him   overnight,   gave   him                                                                   
     [intravenous  (IV)]  fluids,  [but]  we didn't  have  to                                                                   
     give him  any medications.   We  were advised by  poison                                                                   
     control  ... that  this should  just  settle down  after                                                                   
     close  observation -  which we  did, we  put him in  the                                                                   
     intensive care  unit - and the  next day he was  able to                                                                   
     go  home.  And  he was  alert, oriented,  [but] did  not                                                                   
     recall  all of  the things  except  that he  had a  very                                                                   
     scary  experience  and  he  was never  going  to  do  it                                                                   
     again.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. URATA,  in conclusion, opined  that the committee  should pass                                                              
HB 7.   In  response to  questions, he  offered his  understanding                                                              
that synthetic  cannabinoids have  not been  approved by  the U.S.                                                              
Food and Drug  Administration (FDA), and that the  person had only                                                              
smoked  a pipe  full  of the  synthetic  cannabinoid through  some                                                              
sort  of pipe;  and said  that the  person  did not  appear to  be                                                              
suffering   from   an   allergic   reaction   to   the   synthetic                                                              
cannabinoid, and  that the effects  on the person were  similar to                                                              
those of  cocaine or  a "bad trip"  on lysergic acid  diethylamide                                                              
(LSD).                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:11:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ORIN  DYM,   Forensic  Laboratory  Supervisor,   Scientific  Crime                                                              
Detection Laboratory  ("Crime Lab"),  Office of the  Commissioner,                                                              
Department  of Public  Safety  (DPS),  in response  to  questions,                                                              
explained that the  Crime Lab would be responsible  for performing                                                              
all of the  analyses pertaining to  the compounds listed  in HB 7;                                                              
that  he's  provided   the  DOL  with  language   regarding  these                                                              
compounds;  that  this language  is  meant to  encompass  possible                                                              
future variations  in the chemical  composition of these  types of                                                              
synthetic  cannabinoids;  that  the [DEA  has  temporarily  banned                                                              
some] synthetic  cannabinoids; that  the synthetic compound  being                                                              
labeled as "bath  salts" but being used as a drug  is more closely                                                              
related,   structurally,   to  an   amphetamine;   that   analyses                                                              
pertaining  to  the   compounds  listed  in  the   bill  would  be                                                              
conducted  using the Crime  Lab's standard  methodology,  though a                                                              
specific  method has  not yet been  validated  in Alaska;  that it                                                              
could  be a  challenge  to  prove to  a  court that  a  particular                                                              
compound is one  of the synthetic cannabinoids listed  in the bill                                                              
to  the exclusion  of  all other  compounds;  and  that the  DPS's                                                              
fiscal note  reflects the  addition of a  new position  to address                                                              
the anticipated increase  in the Crime Lab's workload,  as well as                                                              
the startup and  ongoing costs associated with  that new position,                                                              
which would be capable of analyzing up to 40 requests per month.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:24:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNE  CARPENETI,   Assistant  Attorney  General,   Legal  Services                                                              
Section,  Criminal Division,  Department of  Law (DOL),  explained                                                              
that usually the  way a particular drug is scheduled  in Alaska is                                                              
that the  federal government schedules  that drug first  under its                                                              
schedules, and then,  as required by Alaska statute,  the governor                                                              
introduces  legislation to  add that drug  to Alaska's  schedules,                                                              
and  then there  are  further statutory  guidelines  that must  be                                                              
followed  with  regard  to  which schedule  that  drug  should  be                                                              
listed under.   In  the case of  synthetic cannabinoids,  however,                                                              
the  federal government  hasn't  scheduled them  yet [having  only                                                              
temporarily   banned  them   while  it   conducts  more   research                                                              
regarding  their  potential  dangers].    So at  this  point,  she                                                              
relayed,  the  DOL  doesn't  know  enough  about  the  dangers  of                                                              
synthetic cannabinoids  to adequately address the  issue of proper                                                              
scheduling,  and  would therefore  prefer  that the  bill  include                                                              
legislative  findings of fact  regarding the  extent of  the abuse                                                              
and the  dangers posed;  such findings  would  also be helpful  to                                                              
the DOL  for prosecution  purposes  as well as  for defending  the                                                              
legislation should  it be challenged.  She indicated  that the DOL                                                              
would  be  happy  to  work with  the  [joint  prime  sponsors]  in                                                              
drafting those legislative findings.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. CARPENETI  concurred that  Mr. Dym has  provided the  DOL with                                                              
language containing  a more generic  description of  the synthetic                                                              
cannabinoids  listed  in  the  bill   such  that  possible  future                                                              
variations in  the chemical composition  of these  compounds would                                                              
still  be  covered,   thereby  precluding  the  need   for  future                                                              
statutory  revisions.   In conclusion,  she  reiterated the  DOL's                                                              
preference that  HB 7  include legislative findings  of fact.   In                                                              
response to questions,  she observed that should HB  7 become law,                                                              
prosecutions  would fall to  the state  alone because  the federal                                                              
government  has   yet  to  schedule   these  types   of  synthetic                                                              
cannabinoids;  that she would  research what  possible effect  any                                                              
future prosecutions  by the federal  government might have  on the                                                              
aforementioned anticipated  increase in the Crime  Lab's workload;                                                              
and, referring  to the  legislative findings  of fact  included in                                                              
legislation passed  in 2006  regarding marijuana, reiterated  that                                                              
it  would be  helpful  - for  purposes of  prosecution,  defending                                                              
against a challenge,  and proper scheduling - for HB  7 to include                                                              
legislative  findings of fact  regarding the  extent of  the abuse                                                              
and the  dangers posed  by these  synthetic cannabinoids  compared                                                              
to other drugs, including marijuana.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  requested that the language  provided to                                                              
the DOL by Mr. Dym be distributed to the drafter.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT  asked  whether law  enforcement  has  come                                                              
across any instances  wherein someone under the  influence of [one                                                              
of  the synthetic  cannabinoids listed  in the  bill] committed  a                                                              
crime but  couldn't be prosecuted  to the  full extent of  the law                                                              
because those compounds had not yet been made illegal.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:37:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RANDAHL    HAHN,   Captain,    Commander,    Alaska   Bureau    of                                                              
Investigations   (ABI),  Division   of   Alaska  State   Troopers,                                                              
Department of  Public Safety (DPS),  indicated that [the  DPS] has                                                              
come across  such instances  wherein the  person was only  charged                                                              
with the  "core" crime  but not  with possession/consumption  of a                                                              
synthetic  cannabinoid.    He  added,  though,  that  because  the                                                              
compounds listed  in the bill are  not yet illegal, [the  DPS] has                                                              
only  anecdotal   information  and   is  unable  to   provide  the                                                              
committee  with  the  type  of  statistical  data  that  it  would                                                              
normally provide with regard to controlled substances.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  expressed interest in hearing  about the                                                              
experiences  of  law  enforcement   in  other  states,  and  about                                                              
whether there  were any other  substances that the  administration                                                              
thinks should be added to HB 7.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  asked  Captain   Hahn  how  the  synthetic                                                              
cannabinoids listed  in the bill  manifest in those who  use them,                                                              
and how dangerous he feels these compounds to be.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CAPTAIN HAHN  indicated that law  enforcement officers  have found                                                              
that  the   reactions  and  behaviors   of  individuals   using  a                                                              
variation  of  one  of  the compounds  listed  in  the  bill  more                                                              
closely  resemble the  reactions  and behaviors  of someone  under                                                              
the influence  of LSD  or cocaine,  rather than  those of  someone                                                              
under  the  influence  of  marijuana;  generally  speaking,  these                                                              
individuals indicated  they were having hallucinations,  they were                                                              
much more  aggressive and violent,  and they had  more significant                                                              
blackout periods.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:41:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH RIPLEY,  Executive Director,  Mat-Su Health  Foundation;                                                              
Chair,  Mat-Su  Substance Abuse  Prevention  Coalition,  indicated                                                              
that  [her  organizations]  are   concerned  about  the  synthetic                                                              
cannabinoids listed  in the bill  - such compounds can  be harmful                                                              
and even  deadly, even  when used  for the first  time -  and that                                                              
[her  organizations] support  passage of  HB 7,  and advocate  the                                                              
use  of public  policy  to curtail  the  availability  and use  of                                                              
these drugs.   She  also provided  comments regarding  alcohol and                                                              
marijuana  abuse.   In  response  to  a  question, she  agreed  to                                                              
provide  the   committee  with  information  regarding   how  many                                                              
businesses  in  Palmer  and Wasilla  sell  synthetic  cannabinoids                                                              
such as those listed in the bill.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:46:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
J.   KATE  BURKHART,   Executive  Director,   Advisory  Board   on                                                              
Alcoholism  and  Drug  Abuse (ABADA),  Department  of  Health  and                                                              
Social  Services (DHSS),  after  stating that  she  would only  be                                                              
speaking on  behalf of the  ABADA and not  on behalf of  the DHSS,                                                              
indicated  that   the  ABADA  supports   the  regulation   of  the                                                              
synthetic cannabinoids  listed in  the bill given  the significant                                                              
health consequences  these compounds pose to people  who use them.                                                              
Although the  DEA has  temporarily banned  possession of  [five of                                                              
the compounds  listed in HB 7] so  as to investigate the  issue of                                                              
proper  scheduling, the  ABADA's  position, she  relayed, is  that                                                              
the state  cannot rely  upon the  federal government to  [schedule                                                              
those compounds at  all, or to schedule them] as  quickly as would                                                              
be  desirable.   [House  Bill  7  represents] an  opportunity  for                                                              
Alaska to protect  its citizens from a significant  health hazard,                                                              
and  to  take the  lead,  over  the federal  government,  on  this                                                              
issue,  particularly  given  how   popular  these  compounds  have                                                              
become   even   though   they've   only   recently   entered   the                                                              
marketplace,  and given  that those  who use  them are  presenting                                                              
with serious  health consequences that  could lead to death.   She                                                              
also provided  comments regarding other hallucinogenic  substances                                                              
that  perhaps  should  be  regulated   as  well,  such  as  Salvia                                                              
Divinorum [and Salvinorin A (Divinorin A)].                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:54:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DENNIS  A.  WHEELER,   Municipal  Attorney,  Department   of  Law,                                                              
Municipality of  Anchorage (MOA), relayed that after  studying the                                                              
issue  of  synthetic  cannabinoids  through  the use  of  a  state                                                              
grant, the MOA  passed an ordinance banning them  back in December                                                              
2010.  Although  such compounds have only been  temporarily banned                                                              
by the  DEA, he  offered his understanding  that it's  considering                                                              
listing them  as schedule I  controlled substances,  and therefore                                                              
the  MOA supports  bills  such  as HB  7  [in its  current  form],                                                              
particularly  given  that the  potency  range  of these  types  of                                                              
synthetic  cannabinoids  is  anywhere  from  10-800  greater  than                                                              
marijuana.   In fact, at  least one person  in Anchorage  has died                                                              
[as a result of  using such a compound] - he went  into a coma and                                                              
never  recovered -  and  there have  been  some significant  motor                                                              
vehicle accidents  resulting from  people driving while  under the                                                              
influence  of these  types  of synthetic  cannabinoids,  including                                                              
one  person who  smashed into  some concrete  barricades and  then                                                              
described  some very  strange [hallucinations]  to the  responding                                                              
officer.   He relayed  that a  couple of  MOA personnel  have been                                                              
making  presentations to  Department of  Corrections (DOC)  staff,                                                              
military  officials, and  others about these  compounds and  their                                                              
dangers, and  indicated that someone  from the MOA  would probably                                                              
be available to  present this information to the  committee during                                                              
the bill's next  hearing.  In response to comments  and a request,                                                              
he agreed to also provide the information in writing.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
VICE CHAIR THOMPSON  announced that public testimony  would remain                                                              
open, and that HB 7 would be held over.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:58:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further business  before the committee,  the House                                                              
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 2:58 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB7 Hearing Request 01-24-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Witness List 02-03-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Sponsor Statement 01-31-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Sectional Analysis 01-24-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Relevant Statute 11.71.120.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Relevant Statute 11.71.150.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Version D 01-24-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Fiscal Note-LAW-CRIM-01-29-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Fiscal Note-DOC-OC-02-02-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Report NCSL Research 10-05-10.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Article ADN Army 12-21-10.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Article Straight Tox 2010.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Fiscal Note-DPS-LAB-02-02-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Article ADN Assembly 12-08-10.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Article Juneau Empire CBJ 01-11-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Article Oakland Press 05-01-10.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Testimony Anonymous 01-24-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Letter Fairbanks Police 01-21-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Letter MSSAPC 01-31-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Email Bruce Abel 01-25-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Email Frank Bergstrom 01-25-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Email Kasen Spickler 01-24-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB7 Supporting Documents-Email Scott Spickler 01-24-11.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 7
HJUD Department Overview-Corrections 020411.pdf HJUD 2/4/2011 1:00:00 PM
Department of Corrections