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3/2/2016 Sen. Crowley bills aimed at protecting children from substance abuse pass Senate
STATE HOUSE – The Rhode Island Senate passed two pieces of legislation sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) that aim to protect the state’s children from new and dangerous forms of substance abuse.

The first piece of legislation (2016-S 2056) prohibits the sale of powdered caffeine to anyone under the age of 18.  The act also prohibits the possession of powdered caffeine on school premises or public playgrounds.  Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) has sponsored similar legislation (2016-H 7063) in the House.

“Powdered caffeine is a synthetic product that is much more highly concentrated than naturally occurring caffeine found in coffee and teas.  In fact, one teaspoon is the equivalent to 25 cups of coffee.  This high concentration poses a serious risk if used incorrectly, including rise of the user's blood pressure, causing dehydration and can lead to seizures, erratic heartbeats and in some cases, even death,” said Senator Crowley.  “It is vital that we protect our children from abusing this product, especially since they are most likely unaware of the strength and potency of what they are ingesting.”

The second piece of legislation (2016-H 2061) bans any form of alcohol other than in an ingestible liquid state.  Senator Crowley’s bill is a response to a dangerous new trend in which alcohol vapors are inhaled, through a variety of crude methods, such as pouring over dry ice and inhaling the fumes or “free-basing” with an open flame.  These methods bypass the body’s normal processing functions through the liver and digestive system, and the vapors directly enter the blood stream and the brain instead, bypassing the body’s normal measures to protect from overdose.  This form of alcohol imbibing has become popular with children and college students who do not realize the risks associated with “smoking” or “free-basing” alcohol. 

“Alcohol is a drug and like other drugs, new and dangerous forms of delivery are emerging,” said Senator Crowley.  “Whether it’s in a powdered or vapor form, the potential for abuse, especially with children, is an ever present danger. This legislation will keep people safe from these new delivery systems where the potential to overdose is too great due to the public’s unfamiliarity with the product.  The danger is that the body has no natural mechanism to stop alcohol poisoning when alcohol is consumed in this way,” added Senator Crowley.  “I think we are lucky there haven’t been any tragedies yet with this kind of alcohol usage, and hopefully this legislation will prevent any from occurring in the future.”

Both pieces of legislation now head to the House of Representatives for hearing and consideration.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903