MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota legislators and law enforcement officials were on hand Thursday for Gov. Mark Dayton’s “mock” bill-signing of a measure to crack down on synthetic drugs in Minnesota.

The law taking effect August 1 makes it a felony to sell synthetic drugs in Minnesota.

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State drug abuse expert Carol Falkowski calls it a “step in the right direction,” but says bath salts and other synthetic substances are still being sold over the Internet.

“We also have very rigorous online sales of these things and that’s really the wild card in all of this,” said Falkowski.

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NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Steve Murphy Reports

Use is on the rise, too: the regional poison center saw five cases of bath salt abuse in 2010. That number rose to 144 cases last year. Two of the 20 deaths from synthetic drugs nationwide have occurred in Minnesota.

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Thursday’s bill-signing came one day after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted a nationwide crackdown on dealers in 100 cities, including Duluth. Drugs were seized and at least two customers were arrested at the “Last Place on Earth” shop.