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Thursday October 27, 2011 | 01:03 PM

Maine lawmakers continued a bipartisan push this week for more federal action to combat the abuse of bath salts.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd, sent a letter to the House GOP leaders asking them to bring to the House floor for a vote a bill he is co-sponsoring that bans the chemicals used in making bath salts and provides the federal Drug Enforcement Agency more power to make similar synthetic drugs permanently illegal.

Michaud said the bill was lauded last week during a meeting in Portland of local, state and federal law enforcement officials held to discuss the spread of bath salts. The bill has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and now is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

“A federal ban enacted through this bill would make bath salts harder to traffic and purchase across state lines,” Michaud said in a statement.

The DEA has acted to impose a one-year emergency ban on the chemicals.

Meanwhile, staffers with the offices of Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., had a phone meeting this week with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to discuss how to better coordinate and streamline federal law enforcement aid to local departments trying to deal with the bath salts problem.

Snowe and Blumenthal have introduced legislation seeking to provide more federal resources.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer in providing information and resources essential to stemming the rampant abuse of synthetic drugs in this state,” Snowe said in a statement.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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