Aromatherapy stores challenge Indiana's 'lookalike' law

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A group of store owners filed suit Wednesday, saying Indiana's efforts to curb so-called lookalike drugs have stretched beyond cracking down on synthetic drugs to granting the state arbitrary power to confiscate legal products from businesses.

Four members of the National Association of Aromatherapy Product Producers and Vendors filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, seeking to block a measure that lawmakers passed last month.

The stores, including Mishawaka organic food distributor B&B Distributions and Marion head shop Bohemian Groove, argue that the law was written too vaguely and has been hurting their business.

"The Statute provides no mandatory ascertainable standards for determining what substances are actually banned, thereby denying any party of notice of their alleged violation of the statute," the parties write in the suit.

The law bans the sale of items similar to other banned drugs. It expands on previous laws banning the sale of bath salts and synthetic drugs like spice, which mimic other controlled substances.

Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, author of the new ban, said the state has been struggling to keep pace with synthetic drug manufacturers who have found easy workarounds to previous bans. The state banned chemicals used in the creation of "bath salts" last year, but manufacturers found new chemical mixtures to work around that law.

"The bottom line is, I think we're on solid footing," Merritt said.

The lawsuit argues that the new law should also be read to ban talcum powder, cigarettes, potpourri and catnip "since it looks like marijuana."

But Merritt contests the only purpose of the synthetics the state is targeting, are to "intoxicate and wreck lives." ''People might say Pledge is a drug because you can sniff it, but you can still shine a table and shine wood with it," he said.

NAAPPV spokesman Evan McMahon said at least three Indiana convenience stores have already had herbal incense confiscated by police in the few weeks since the law took effect. The parties in the suit want to stop the sale of synthetic drugs, but also want to protect their ability to sell legal products.

Store owners attempted to work with state lawmakers to craft a narrower version of the law this session, but were stymied, McMahon said. The group is hoping the court will block the newest law so store owners can work with lawmakers on a separate measure next year.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he was ready to defend the law in court.

"The Indiana General Assembly made a public policy decision that the Indiana Code ought not be circumvented by peddlers of synthetic drugs who try to exploit loopholes in order to profit from the sale of potentially dangerous substances," Zoeller said.


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  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1