Representative: Etizolam poses serious health risk to northerners
State Rep. Sue Allor has introduced a measure to protect people in Northern Michigan from the detrimental effects of Etizolam, an unregulated drug that has become popular in the region.
Etizolam, a prescription medication in Japan, India and Italy, is similar in nature to benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax, but because it is federally unregulated in the U.S., anyone can buy it online without a prescription.
“We’re learning that the danger of this drug is that it slowly shuts down the respiratory system to the point where abusers become unable to breathe,” said Allor, of Wolverine. “The risk is death, yet it’s available to absolutely anyone with a credit card and internet access.”
The issue was brought to Allor’s attention by Lt. Todd Ross of the Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, who expressed concerns about the uncontrolled chemical and the increasing instances of abuse he and his colleagues have seen in Northern Michigan.
“Downstate, heroin, cocaine and other street drugs are more readily available,” said Lt. Ross. “That’s not the case in Northern Michigan, so we tend to see substantial abuse of Etizolam because it’s uncontrolled and very readily available.”
Controlled substances are placed on one of five schedules based on their potential for abuse and dependence. Allor’s plan would classify Etizolam as a Schedule I controlled substance as it does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S., has a potential for abuse, and has a high potential for dependence.
Possession of a Schedule I controlled substance in Michigan can result in criminal penalties ranging from up to four years in prison and $25,000 in fines to life imprisonment and $1,000,000 in fines.
Approximately 16 other states have listed Etizolam as a controlled substance.
Allor’s bill was referred to the House Health Policy Committee.
PHOTO INFORMATION: State Rep. Sue Allor, right, introduces her bill to classify Etizolam as a Schedule I controlled substance.