Legislators are looking at how to punish those who possess and sell synthetic drugs … a topic those who wrote Missouri’s current drug laws never anticipated.

The Joint Interim Committee on the Missouri Criminal Code is poring over the state’s current drug laws and how offenders are punished for breaking them. Senator Jolie Justus of Kansas City says legislators can’t keep up with the new synthetic drug market, and wants to make sure penalties are addressed in the rewrite.

Jason Lamb with the Missouri Office of Prosecution services says the current rewrite of the criminal code the committee is looking at doesn’t specify how to stay one step ahead of the chemists. He recommends lawmakers have a meaningful discussion about how to incorporate penalties for synthetic drug possession and sales, and to include the experts — forensics, chemists, and law enforcement.

The committee will meet two more times to discuss sex crimes.

Justus says rewriting the criminal code will put all of the laws written over the years to address crime in alignment and will clear up inconsistencies in sentencing. The last time the code was rewritten in the mid ’70s, she says, it was fostered through the legislative process by then-Senator Ike Skelton. Before that, the 1800s.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports (1:05)