Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has stepped up the fight against synthetic drugs by signing emergency regulations banning newly identified forms of synthetic marijuana.

Beshear's action Tuesday is the first time an administrative regulation has been used to outlaw synthetic substances, which mimic the effects of cocaine, marijuana and other illegal stimulants.

In the past, Kentucky lawmakers have passed laws banning drugs known as "bath salts" and synthetic marijuana.

The governor says his regulation will allow the state to keep pace with "backyard chemists" who try to skirt the law by slightly altering formulas of such dangerous substances.

Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell is urging White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske to include Hardin County in the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. That would mean more federal resources to combat illegal drugs in an area that has seen a significant increase in drug related crimes.

Drug crimes in Tennessee have risen to their second-highest number in eleven years. That comes despite the fact that overall crime rates in the Volunteer State are dropping. On the one hand, Tennessee has experienced four years of general crime declines. On the other hand, the Tennessean reports that drug-related incidents are on the rise throughout the state.

The office of Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway says $6 million has been recovered from Merck and Company in a lawsuit filed against pharmaceutical companies. Its the latest in a series of settlements over so-called "average wholesale price" cases. The suits allege that defendent drug companies published false and inflated average wholesale prices for their products, which didn't bear any relationship to the prices actually charged to customers.