Banning Designer Drugs, NE Bill Advances To Final Vote

Paul Gutierrez

OMAHA (KPTM) - The sudden death of 18-year-old Billy Tucker sent shockwaves throughout the Omaha area. Last October, an overdose from synthetic marijuana killed him. Now, what's known as K2 is the target of Nebraska lawmakers with the finish line in sight.

"I think these substances are very scary," said Christine Gabig, a forensic scientist at the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Gabig knows all about the drug. She's even testified about it in front of the legislature.

"They're all over the news now and you're seeing kids die from them."

That message is part of a push to outlaw chemicals used to make the drugs.

"We are seeing new substances that are circumventing our current laws and we need to keep updating our laws annually if we're going to stay on top or ahead of this issue."

The measure has already made it through two rounds of debate, but it's hardly smooth sailing. Among the objections from critics include, but are not necessarily limited to, the law being too harsh against first-time users and the measure being too vague. An amendment with strong punishment for anyone who hurts ambulance attendants or other first responders is also something some critics deem out of place.

For Gabig, the bill is necessary because it all boils down to public safety.

"It definitely has not slowed down. All of the states are still seeing these designer drugs come."

The bill is scheduled to go up for a final vote next Thursday. That's also the last day of the legislative session.