State Police Urge Action on Synthetic Marijuana, Crime Lab Funds at Budget Hearing

HARRISBURG (March 23, 2011) Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) asked the state’s top cops what tools they need to crack down on synthetic marijuana and bath salt abuse during a recent Senate Appropriations hearing, and secured an update on the Commonwealth’s intelligence gathering in the wake of a controversial monitoring contract that drew protests from law-abiding citizens and groups.

State Police Commissioner-designate Frank Noonan said that his organization was collaborating with officials from the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to gather information on terrorist and criminal activities, with 30 trained agents currently assisting PEMA. Police officials said they received 17,000 requests last year and that critical information is getting to the people and places where it is needed.

Commissioner Noonan also expressed his support for legislation to ban synthetic marijuana and “bath salt” abuse statewide. He noted that these drugs are most appealing to young people and are highly dangerous. Several pieces of legislation have been introduced in this and the prior session to ban designer drugs and the chemicals that comprise them, and many area district attorneys are now seeking permanent injunctions against the sale of bath salts or asking vendors to voluntarily stop selling the product.

Bath salts, or “fake cocaine,” induce strong paranoia and delusions and have been implicated in numerous criminal incidents recently, according to a Criminal Intelligence Center Crime Bulletin provided by the State Police.

Sen. Baker asked Noonan whether more money is needed at the state’s crime laboratories, which help to process and analyze crime-related evidence, including fingerprints, ballistics reports, blood stains, hair samples, and drug identification. Commissioner Noonan reiterated that a serious backlog exists at most laboratories because they service almost all municipalities.

Contact: Jennifer Wilson
(570) 675-3931