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.
"Knowing that it's a felony, I feel that it will significantly cut down on the sales of this because the owner of the market has liability both civilly and criminally," Goodlettsville Police Chief Richard Pope said.
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.
"Anything that increases the penalty on something like this is going to be very helpful for law enforcement because as you know we made threes different raids on a couple of markets, there is a penalty for it but in one case they paid the fine everything that day and went back to business," Pope said.
The Senate has not yet passed its version of the bill.