Entries in Virginia (3)


New Synthetic Drug Amped Used to Get High

George Doyle/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) -- Amped, a new type of synthetic drug that falls into the street category of “bath salts,” is being used by people in Virginia to get high, and likely in other parts of the country as well.

The drug is touted as a ladybug attractant, but at least six cases of people ingesting the chemical compound have been reported in Eastern and Central Virginia, according to Dr. Rutherfoord Rose, director of the Virginia Poison Center.

Amped is only the latest of these bath salts to hit the web and convenience stores.  Others, such as “Zoom,” Cloud Nine,” and “Ivory Wave” are similar recreational drugs that have amphetamine-like qualities.  They increase blood pressure and heart rate, and many people have experienced paranoia, violent behavior, hallucinations and delusions while high, Rose said.  Some users have even committed suicide while on the drug.

“Despite laws that have outlawed certain chemicals within these drugs, chemists easily change a chemical or molecule within the compound to give it a similar or more potent property, and, because it is a different chemical entity, it is no longer illegal,” said Rose.

The drugs are often disguised as incense, plant foods and cleaners.  They carry warning labels that caution against human consumption, and the label notes the illegal ingredients that are not in the compound, but it does not actually list the ingredients that are in it.

People can smoke, snort or even inject the bath salts.  On one website that sells the bath salt, a one-gram container of costs $34.95.

In 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers said there were 6,138 calls regarding exposure to bath salts, up from 304 in 2010.

“This is becoming a public health problem,” said Rose.  “These street chemists are probably getting three or four more products ready to come out for when the other ones go off the market or get outlawed.  Unless we get smart enough to outlaw all the chemicals at one time, this is just going to continue on.”´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Virginia Legislation May Shut Down Abortion Providers

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) -- New state board of health regulations issued last Friday lay the groundwork for stricter regulation of abortion providers in Virginia -- a shift in policy that abortion rights advocates feel unjustly targets women's clinics with the intent of limiting women's access to abortions.

According to the new regulations, all abortion clinics and physician offices providing abortions would have to meet specific building and safety requirements -- such as five-foot wide hallways, 250-square-foot operating rooms and specific ventilation systems -- that are normally only required for outpatient hospitals.  Similar regulations were passed by Kansas' legislature earlier this year but have been blocked by a federal judge.

The new rules for Virginia are the product of a law passed this winter that reclassified abortion clinics as hospital facilities. In accordance with the law, the state board of health has formulated specific health and safety regulations for the clinics.  These rules, which are now in preliminary form, will be voted on by the board on Sept. 15 and, if approved, most likely be signed into law by Gov. Bob McDonnell before the year's end.

Though the board of health cites patient safety as its primary motivation for the new laws, women's clinics affected by the new regulations argue that they are being specifically targeted by an anti-abortion rights state government that seeks to regulate abortions out of existence in Virginia.

"My initial reaction to these laws is that Gov. McDonnell is pandering to his political base, not that he's concerned with the medical needs of Virginia's women and their families.  We've been providing safe, up-to-code abortions for over 30 years and these facilities have served us well," says Jill Abbey, who oversees four women's clinics in Virginia that collectively provide about 3,500 abortions each year.

"Colonoscopies, dental surgery, and plastic surgery are much more invasive than the abortions we provide, and they are not being asked to live up to this kind of strict regulation.  That tells you right there that this is not about safety, it's about politics," Abbey says. Under the proposed regulations, she believes that none of her four clinics would be able to operate at this time.

According to Ted Miller, a spokesman for Naral Pro-Choice America, none of the 21 clinics providing abortions currently meet the rigorous standards laid out in the draft regulation.

"Abortion providers are already the most regulated health care providers in the state, and abortion remains one of the safest medical procedures," he said. "They're specifying what fabric can be used on window coverings, the ceiling height, how loud the air conditioning can be. What does this have to do with women's safety?  This has to do with politics."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Health Care Law Argued in Federal Appeals Court

Dynamic Graphics/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A panel of three Federal Appeals Court judges Tuesday expressed skepticism of legal arguments against the Obama administration's health care law during a hearing in Richmond, Va.

Two hotly-contested cases, argued in the courtroom Tuesday, challenge the constitutionality of a key provision of the landmark law, which requires individuals to buy health care insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty.

All three judges on the panel were appointed to the circuit by Democratic presidents -- two by President Obama and a third by President Bill Clinton. The judges were randomly picked by a computer program.

Matt Staver, a lawyer for Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school challenging the law, argued in the first case that the so-called "individual mandate" is unconstitutional because Congress does not have the authority to force Americans to participate in a marketplace.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal defended the health care law's individual insurance mandate, saying that Congress was within its authority to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

In a second case heard by the appellate panel, the judges also seemed skeptical of the whether or not the state of Virginia has the legal right, or "standing," to bring the case.

E. Duncan Getchell Jr., the Solicitor General of Virginia, argued that his state does have the right to challenge the law because it interferes with a state law already on the books. He said that residents cannot be forced to buy health insurance.

Two other appellate courts will hear similar challenges to the law this spring. Court watchers believe the issue could reach the U.S. Supreme Court sometime during the term that begins in the fall of 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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