WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today re-introduced the Saving Kids from Candy Flavored Drugs Act to increase the criminal penalties for marketing candy-flavored drugs to appeal to children. Coincidentally, the issue of stronger penalties for distributing candy-flavored drugs is before the United States Sentencing Commission today.
Law enforcement reports that drug dealers frequently combine drugs with chocolate or fruit flavors or package the drugs to look like candy or soda to attract youth. For example, there are reports of candy bracelets containing ecstasy; gummy bears laced with Xanax; and candy laced with THC.
"Cynical criminals take advantage of drug trends in the general population to market dangerous illicit drugs specifically to kids," Grassley said. "It could be marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine or something else. The criminals are innovative, and the law should keep up with them. Federal law should make crystal clear that marketing potentially lethal drugs to kids will have steep consequences. It's good to see the recognition of the problem from the United States Sentencing Commission."
"Lifelong addictions frequently begin when a person is young. That's why it's so important we do all that we can to keep drugs away from children. A big part of that is stopping drug dealers from altering drugs to increase their appeal," said Feinstein. "Many children may not realize that candied or flavored drugs are just as dangerous as unadulterated substances, putting them at greater risk of overdosing or developing an addiction. Increasing penalties for those who modify drugs to appeal to kids will deter this conduct and help stop the proliferation of these drugs."
The Saving Kids from Candy-Flavored Drugs Act of 2015 would:
• Provide an enhanced penalty when a person manufactures, creates, distributes, dispenses, or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or Schedule II that is:
• Combined with a beverage or candy product,
• Marketed or packaged to appear similar to a beverage or candy product, or
• Modified by flavoring or coloring to appear similar to a candy or beverage product.
To be eligible for an enhanced penalty, the perpetrator must have known or had reasonable cause to believe that the modified controlled substance would be distributed to a minor. Anyone who alters a controlled substance in these ways would be subject to the following penalties, in addition to the penalty for the underlying offense:
• Up to 10 years for the first offense
• Up to 20 years for a second or subsequent offense
The Sentencing Commission would also be directed to provide for a sentencing enhancement of not less than two offense levels for perpetrators who engage in this same conduct.
The bill is supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, National District Attorneys Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Directors' Association, and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA).
Grassley is chairman and Feinstein is co-chairman of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control. Grassley is chairman and Feinstein is a member of the Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over crime and sentencing. Details of the United States Sentencing Commission's hearing including candy-flavored drugs are available here.
The proposal before the commission, available for public comment until March 18, is available here, p. 54.