A nearly three-month-old Internet blog posting taking Tennessee GOP state Reps. Tony Shipley and Jon Lundberg to task for passing legislation outlawing synthetic drugs and shutting down area head shops has been turned over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into, Shipley tells the Kin sport Times-News. “I got a call this morning that someone said something was out there, looking like it was a life threat, and it was forwarded to TBI, and they do whatever it is they do,” Shipley said. “The information was sent to Nashville by county officials who saw it today.”
The blog, called ablogination.tn420.org, said of Shipley: “We’re coming for you. The businesses you sought to destroy have more money than you do and far more resolve.”
The blog, dated May 15, included a computer-altered image of the so-called “Blackbird Mailer” used by the Tennessee Republican Party in the 2008 campaign between Shipley and former state Rep. Nathan Vaughn, Northeast Tennessee’s first African-American state lawmaker. Shipley narrowly won that election.
In the TRP mailer, the heads of Vaughn, former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama were pasted on blackbirds and described as “Part of the Big Government Flock.” In the blog, Shipley’s and Lundberg’s heads are pasted on the blackbirds and described as “Part of the Fascist Big Government Flock.”
See also WJHL-TV’s reporting, which includes this: A T.B.I. spokesperson said State Senator Mae Beavers contacted the agency with concerns about the blog post.
A T.B.I. agent met with Sen. Beavers, the spokesperson said.
…Shipley told 11 Connects News that Speaker of the House Beth Harwell has directed the T.H.P. (Tennessee Highway Patrol) Office of Executive Protection to evaluate the threat and take steps necessary to protect him and his family.
Here’s a portion of the blog post.
“We’re coming for you (Shipley). The businesses you sought to destroy have more money than you do and far more resolve….You attacked our livelihood, which means you attacked our families and their well-being. I am your enemy, Tony.”
State Representative Jon Lundberg told 11 Connects’ Josh Smith he doesn’t consider the blog to represent an “imminent threat.”
Synthetic drug sellers and makers now face felony jail time and fines up to $5,000 following a ceremonial legislation signing by Gov. Bill Haslam in front of Tennessee High School’s student body Monday, reports Hank Hayes. Two bills sponsored by state Reps. Jon Lundberg and Tony Shipley — which address both synthetic marijuana and bath salts similar to controlled substances — are now law. Shipley’s bill took effect Monday, while the effective date of Lundberg’s legislation was April 27.
The law also allows authorities to declare synthetic drug businesses as a public nuisance. Haslam indicated earlier this year he didn’t know that much about synthetic drugs, but then began hearing about student protests outside local head shops.
“I think one of the things that affected our thinking … was this is a big issue,” Haslam told reporters following the legislation signing at Viking Hall. “We had a student death up here, and we heard repeated tales from the emergency rooms here about how many patients they were seeing from bath salts or synthetic drugs. It really was something becoming way too commonplace. This place was the epicenter of it.”
Shipley, R-Kingsport, asked THS students: “How many of you know someone who’s taken bath salts or know where they’ve bought bath salts?”
Many hands went up.
“Ladies and gentlemen, that’s the reason we passed this law. This was an epidemic attacking our community,” Shipley declared.
…Haslam’s administration included more than $300,000 in the recently passed state budget to pay for incarceration expenses in the law. Those expenses were based on more than 60 people going into the Department of Corrections for a controlled substance or imitation controlled substance offense in each of the past 10 years.
The new laws and increased public focus on synthetic drugs, Lundberg said, apparently have scared off synthetic drug sellers. He added synthetic drug cases in local emergency rooms have dropped dramatically.
“I think it’s had an impact that people know it’s illegal. … It hit us the worst,” Lundberg observed
…For more information go to www.capitol.tn.gov. Shipley’s bill was HB 3175. Lundberg’s bill was HB 2286.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House passed a bill that would make it a felony to make or sell synthetic drugs often called bath salts that imitate controlled substances.
The bill passed unanimously during the House floor session on Monday. Sponsor Rep. Jon Lundberg, a Republican from Bristol, said the drugs have hit his district in northeast Tennessee hard after Virginia banned the drugs and people have been crossing state lines to purchase the drugs in stores in Tennessee.
Lundberg said the drugs are not marketed for ingestion and can be purchased in convenience and tobacco stores. The bill would also allow authorities to declare the stores where the drugs are sold as public nuisances.
The Senate has not yet passed its version of the bill.
The success of Virginia’s laws against synthetic drugs is partly to blame for the synthetic drug problem in East Tennessee, reports the Bristol Herald-Courier. “We’re somewhat a victim of the success of the Virginia law,” Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus said earlier this week at a news conference about the drugs. “It effectively drove them [sellers of synthetic drugs] to Tennessee.”
He also said that the east part of the state seems hit the hardest by synthetic drugs, and is worried that, if left unchecked by legislature, the problem will grow throughout the state.
Tennessee has a synthetic drug law, but it contains only a short list of banned chemicals – and omits a number of other compounds that have the same or similar effects. Tennessee lawmakers are looking to change that, and are looking at Virginia’s law as an example, Staubus said. Virginia’s law classifies synthetic drugs based on their effects – in that they mimic controlled substances – and then treats synthetics like the controlled substance it is intended to mimic.
Three bills currently before the Tennessee General Assembly aim to do that; two are sponsored by local representatives Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, and Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.
An all-encompassing legislative amendment containing elements of three anti-synthetic drug bills has been drafted and is moving forward, state Rep. Tony Shipley tells the Kingsport Times-News. Shipley, R-Kingsport, said the amendment has been tacked on to his anti-synthetic drugs bill and will become the “coordinated legislative package” attacking sellers, distributors and users. Shipley’s legislation with the new amendment advanced out of a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Wednesday.
“It’s now a completely deconflicted and coordinated bill,” Shipley said of the amendment with merged pieces of two other bills, including one filed by state Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol.
Both Shipley and Lundberg have called attention to synthetic drug deaths and increased hospital emergency room visits while touting their bills. During the subcommittee meeting,
Shipley placed over the podium a black T-shirt showing a bath salts container and the words: “Death Sentence. Save Our Community.”
The lengthy legislative amendment that advanced creates new felonies for manufacturing, selling and distributing synthetic drugs
Tennessee lawmakers plan to trip up manufacturers and retailers who have until now sidestepped efforts to outlaw “designer” drugs mimicking the effects of stimulants and other substances, reports Andy Sher. Gone are the detailed descriptions of complex chemical chains of organic compounds. Instead, sponsors of a bill use a strategy that bans “analogue” substances having the same effect of the stimulants, depressants or hallucinogens that are now prohibited.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, told committee colleagues the approach “attacks the plague that is synthetic drugs, and it’s designed to capture present synthetic or designer drugs as well as those created in the future.”
It easily passed the committee.
The legislation (SB2172) also changes penalties from a misdemeanor to a felony for the manufacture, sale or possession of substances like bath salts and plant food that are sold for human consumption with the intention of producing cheap and sometimes dangerous highs.
“Here’s the problem,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, the House sponsor of the bill. “Last year, we thought we had it [the problem] cornered and we named long, organic compounds.”
But, Shipley said, “the ink was still wet on the legislation and they [manufacturers] dropped one carbon ion and replaced it with a chloride ion on the end. And it was no longer illegal.”
“This legislation moves to [effects],” the lawmaker added. “It says if it acts like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck and you’re going to jail.”
News release from TBI:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, executed multiple state search warrants today in Rutherford County as part of “Operation Synful Smoke” to begin enforcing new Tennessee laws surrounding the sale of synthetic drugs at area convenience stores and markets.
The 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office requested the TBI launch the investigation in conjunction with the Law Enforcement and Special Prosecutions Division of the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office. Between June and August 2011, TBI Special Agents made approximately 150 undercover visits to more than 60 convenience stores in Rutherford County and purchased illegal drugs both over the counter and behind the counter which resulted in obtaining today’s search warrants. The drugs purchased were synthetic cannabinoids known by several names including “Herbal Incense” or “Potpourri” and synthetic methcathinone known as “Bath Salts” or “Plant Food.” The Public Chapter regarding synthetic cannabinoids, PC 274, went into effect July 1, 2011 and synthetic methcathinone, PC 169, on May 5, 2011.
Synthetic canabinoids are dried plant materials treated with chemicals sold under various brand names such as 7H, K2, Diablo, Exotica or Spice. Abusers smoke the product to experience effects similar to those induced by marijuana. Synthethic methcathinone is a central nervous stimulant similar to a Schedule I Controlled Substance sold in powder, liquid and crystal forms as plant food, insect repellant, pond cleaner and vacuum freshener. Abusers typically ingest, inhale, inject or smoke the product to experience an effect similar to amphetamines. The synthetic drugs can cause severe physical and psychological reactions and even death.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn said, “The warning labels that read ‘Not for Human Consumption’ are simply a ploy to try and get around the law. That will not work in Tennessee. As is evident with today’s search warrants, if business owners sell the drugs, law enforcement will seize the drugs.”
After the new laws went into effect, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper warned legitimate businesses to pull the products from their shelves. “The Attorney General’s office is pleased to be part of the effort to get these dangerous substances off store shelves. The Law Enforcement Division is working closely with local law enforcement, the District Attorney and the TBI in a coordinated effort to identify the illegal substances and halt their sale,” Attorney General Cooper said.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, US Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations, Metro Nashville Police Department, Murfreesboro Police Department, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Smyrna Police Department and LaVergne Police Department were involved in the investigation and/or execution of today’s search warrants.
No arrests have been made as the investigation is still ongoing. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, TBI will turn the case and its evidence over to the 16th Judicial District Attorney General’s office for prosecution.