RI House passes broad synthetic drug ban

The Rhode Island House has endorsed a ban on synthetic compounds sold as fake marijuana and bath salts - including some formulations that don't yet exist.

The House passed the bill unanimously Tuesday.

While state and federal laws already ban some substances designed to mimic the effects of marijuana and amphetamines, chemists can tweak the molecular structure of the drugs to circumvent the prohibition.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, who pushed for the legislation, says it would attempt to close that loophole by banning the chemical classes that include the compounds used in synthetic marijuana and bath salts.

The two substances have been linked to thousands of emergency room visits around the country. Three Rhode Islanders died in the last year after using bath salts.