By Mike Lillis - 06/18/10 12:30 PM EDT
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation establishing harsher penalties for pushers who candy-coat drugs to market them to kids.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the sponsors, said the proposal sends "a strong and clear message to drug dealers: If you target our children by peddling candy-flavored drugs, there will be a heavy price to pay."
Current law boosts penalties for dealers who sell to anyone under the age of 18, but the stiffer penalties apply only to those involved in direct distribution of the drugs. Feinstein's bill would expand the enhanced punishments to include the manufacturers who sweeten, color or package drugs in order to entice kids.
"Drug dealers who target children by flavoring drugs to taste like candy have sunk to a new low," said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), another sponsor of the bill.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) has also endorsed the legislation.