TRENTON – State Sen. John Girgenti, (D-35), of Hawthorne, said the state can’t afford another Pamela Schmidt. So today, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee passed his bill, S2829, unanimously out of committee that would criminalize the possession and sale of products containing bath salts.
The chairman said the body of Schmidt, a Rutgers University student and resident of Warren Township, was discovered on March 13 in the basement of her boyfriend’s parent’s home in Cranford. She allegedly was killed by her boyfriend, who was reportedly under the influence of the bath salts, a “powdered drug,” with methamphetamine-similar effects, “masquerading” as a shelf-ready home product.
Girgenti’s bill, “Pamela’s Law,” will now go before the full Senate for a vote.
“There’s only one reason people purchase these products, and that is to get high,” Girgenti said.
Last month, the Attorney General banned the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of six chemicals that are typically used to make the product, which is readily available online in some retail settings. The order, however, is only in effect for 270 days or until an administrative regulation is enacted, whichever occurs first.
Girgenti’s legislation would permanently make it a crime to manufacture, distribute or dispense, or possess or have under one’s control with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense products containing those chemicals. In cases where the amount involved is one ounce or more, it would be treated as a second-degree crime, with possible penalties of five to ten years in jail, a $150,000 fine, or both.
In cases where the amount is less than one ounce, it would be treated as a third-degree crime, with possible penalties of three to five years imprisonment, a $15,000 fine, or both.
The unauthorized possession of products containing those chemicals without the intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense the products would be a third-degree crime if one ounce or more is involved. If less than one ounce is involved, it would be a fourth-degree crime, with possible penalties of up to 18 months imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.