02/21/2012 01:59 pm ET

Rand Paul, In Ongoing Opposition To Synthetic Drugs Ban, Cited Threat Of 'Radical Islam'

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), as part of an ongoing effort to block a federal ban of synthetic drugs, once cited the threat of "radical Islam" as a reason for opposition.

The warning was mentioned in a December letter obtained by the Bowling Green Daily News to Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who have authored efforts to block synthetic drugs. The Kentucky senator warns of the difficulties of people finding employment after being released from prison.

He then says, "In addition, there has been much discussion in the Senate regarding combatting radical Islam. Notably, Islam is currently the fastest-growing religion among prisoners in the United States. Sending people -- often young people -- who may already come from broken homes and difficult family situations into a brutal prison environment is potentially a breeding ground for radicalization."

Paul told the Daily News that he stood by his comments but that that threat was not his reason for opposition. Paul's spokesman has said that he thinks drug enforcement is a state and local issue.

Paul, the son of GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), is singlehandedly blocking bills that would outlaw synthetic drugs with a Senate hold. The parliamentary move prevents the bill from reaching the Senate floor, but could be overridden by 60 senators.

The House of Representatives voted on Dec. 8 to ban synthetic drugs by a 317-98 vote. The measure also bans chemical compounds in the drugs that have been marketed as substitutes for marijuana and narcotics.

Critics of the bill, including Paul, have also cited the restriction of chemical compounds as a reason to oppose the bill, saying that it could hinder legitimate medical and pharmaceutical research on them.

The AP reported last year that the drugs -- marketed by names such as "K2" and "Spice" -- have been responsible for thousands of hospital visits. Military officials have also been alarmed by the rise of usage of synthetic marijuana by U.S. troops.

More than 40 states have banned some of the chemicals in the drugs.