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A drug advisory committee that helped launch legislation to ban spice and a drug-laden product marketed as bath salts is questioning an amendment to the bill.
And that's not all the advisory committee, largely a group of Utah doctors, is wondering about. Another bill that would outlaw a plant called kratom is getting the thumbs down from the group.
Members of the controlled substances advisory committee met with lawmakers Friday to voice their concerns, particularly about chemicals or plants included in the bills that committee members feel might not have been researched enough.
The committee was formed last year by lawmakers to advise them on drug issues. But the amended spice bill and the kratom bill were not vetted by committee experts, who include the state medical examiner, a leading drug researcher and others.
The drug advisory group helped craft the original spice legislation.
"If we exist as window dressing, fine," said David Sundwall, committee chairman and former director of the Utah Department of Health. "But if we are going to be consulted and used, better."
On Thursday, senators added Ivory Wave, sold legally as a bath salt, to the bill that would ban spice, the herbal concoction. Both are used as recreational drugs. Sundwall and others are concerned the Ivory Wave amendment included just two of the six chemicals found in the bath salt, which can be snorted or ingested.
The state crime lab confirms it has found three of the six chemicals in Utah, putting the bill behind the curve, committee members argued.
"The amendment came out of talks with law enforcement," said Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, who sponsored the spice bill. "But I want the list to be complete."
On Friday, House members rejected the Senate amendment, at the urging of Froerer. The bill was only steps away from heading to the governor's desk. It now heads back to the Senate, where changes may be considered.
Spice is still legal except where it has been banned by various Utah cities. A federal ban on spice has been stalled by a lawsuit.
Except for various Utah cities that have banned spice, the herbal-chemical combination is still legal. A federal ban on spice has not been put into effect as a lawsuit challenging the ban works its way through the courts.