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During the second press conference of Muriel Bowser‘s mayoral term, she renewed a pledge to reduce synthetic drug distribution and consumption.

Bowser noted that despite a spike in synthetic drug use, many of the cases go unreported and untreated.

Next steps, said Bowser, include working with the D.C. Council on “appropriate language” that would enact bigger penalties for stores who break the law by selling those goods. Communications Director Michael Czin had no comment on whether or not Bowser would follow in the footsteps of Vincent Gray, who personally toured convenience stores asking them not to sell drug paraphernalia.

“There is a clear and present danger,” Bowser said of the synthetic drugs, which are colloquially called “spice,” “bath salts,” or “Scooby snacks,” and are sold at gas stations and liquor stores in the form of a concentrated liquid, incense, or other crystalline substances.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the drugs can pose a serious risk to users: side effects include paranoia, hallucinations, and an increased heart rate. Lanier denied any link between the increase in synthetic drug use and a delay in Congressional approval of marijuana legalization.

Later in the press conference, D.C. United COO Tom Hunt said that the construction of the team’s new soccer stadium in Buzzard Point could deter young people from taking the drugs.

Photo by Will Sommer