Bill

SB 1582

84(R) - 2015
Senate Health & Human Services
Senate Health & Human Services

Vote Recommendation

Yes
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Positive
  • Neutral

Author(s)

Van Taylor

Bill Caption

Relating to the scheduling of controlled substances and the designation and emergency scheduling of certain substances as hazardous controlled substances; creating criminal offenses.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Costs associated with enforcement, prosecution, and confinement could likely be absorbed with existing resources. Revenue from fines imposed and collected is not anticipated to have a significant fiscal impact.

Bill Analysis

The bill would amend the Health and Safety Code by authorizing the Commissioner of Health at the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to determine an imminent hazard to the public safety exists if the commissioner makes findings that a substance poses a danger to health and safety. The commissioner would base his or her determination on:

  • the historical pattern of a substance‚Äôs abuse;
  • the scope, duration, and significance of its abuse; and
  • its risk to the public health.   

When the commissioner modifies the list of controlled substances under Schedule I, the bill would establish a procedure for designating certain controlled substances as hazardous controlled substances. The qualifications by which the commissioner would be able to place a controlled substance as Schedule I, include that the drug is chemically similar in structure or effect to a controlled substance or poses an immediate danger to life or health, and receives approval of placement on the schedule by the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. The designation of a controlled substance as a hazardous controlled substance would expire on September 1 of each odd-numbered year for any designation in effect before January 1 of that year. 

The bill would create varying offenses, including a Class A misdemeanor, Class B misdemeanor, state jail felony, felony of the third degree, and a felony of the second degree, for a person who knowingly manufactures, delivers, or possesses a designated hazardous controlled substance. The offense would depend on the aggregate weight of the designated hazardous controlled substance.

Vote Recommendation Notes

There has been a significant increase in recent years in the production, development, and sale of synthetic designer drugs. These synthetic drugs are created and altered rapidly, and are designed to have a pharmacological effect similar to a Schedule I or II controlled substance that is regulated under federal law. While new designer synthetic drugs are now routinely added by the legislature to the list of substances prohibited under the Texas Controlled Substances Act, rapid permutations in drug design prevent the act from being timely updated to reflect a changing supply market. 

Changing the molecular structure allows manufacturers to exploit a loophole and avoid the responsibility associated with the legal jeopardy of the illegal drugs they are replacing. The purpose of this legislation is to close that loophole by authorizing the commissioner of DSHS to temporarily ban specific synthetic drugs during the legislative interim through an emergency scheduling process.

We support SB 1582 because it fits within our view of a legitimate role of government and promotes personal responsibility. Implementing measures to curb manufacturers' ability to skirt the law would also potentially alleviate pressure on court systems and help reduce the prison population.