States and Feds Rush to Outlaw Drugs Sold as “Bath Salts”

By Patrick Morgan | January 31, 2011 2:17 pm

Bath products never sounded so dangerous before. Two methamphetamine-like drugs that are being sold as mere “bath salts” have been linked to hallucinations and suicides, and lawmakers around the country are cracking down. Three states have already banned the substances, and this weekend Senator Charles Schumer announced that he’ll introduce a bill to outlaw the substances at the federal level.

“These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country,” said Schumer, a New York Democrat. [Reuters]

The drugs, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), can be snorted, injected, or smoked. They have no connection to real bath salts–the scented powders and crystals added to bath water for relaxation. The drugs are commercially labeled with such innocuous names as TranQuility, Blue Silk, and White Lightning, but authorities agree that the effects are anything but innocuous:

Psychotic reactions to snorting the “bath salts” reportedly led one woman to swing a machete at her 71-year-old mother in an attempt to behead her, Panama City Beach police said. Also, a man high on the brand Blue Silk tore up the backseat of a patrol car with his teeth after seven Bay County Sheriff’s Office deputies wrestled the crazed man into the cruiser, the agency said. [Los Angeles Times]

After linking mephedrone to at least two deaths, the European Union banned it in December. In the United States, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Florida have recently banned the substances. Although the drugs can lead to euphoria and high energy, they can also cause paranoia, insomnia, and hallucinations. Florida officials reported that the state’s poison control centers had received 61 calls related to “bath salts” as of last Wednesday, and that the drugs had led to dozens of hospital visits in the past year.

Even if Senator Schumer’s bill goes forward, it’s likely that many more states will ban these substances. Oddly enough, although many people in Florida are happy about the drug ban, those who have to enforce the law see a slightly different picture:

On Thursday, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies checked local shops for the banned products, but none turned up. The new law is a burden for the agency, which has not encountered abuse problems, said Sheriff Al Lamberti…. “Now we’re going to have to devote scarce resources to this, which is one more thing on our plates,” Lamberti said Thursday. [Los Angeles Times]

Related Content:
80beats: Drug Users Are Mining the Scientific Literature for “Legal Highs”
80beats: Could Illegal Drugs Like Ketamine and LSD Become Serious Medicine?
80beats: Can a Party Drug Mitigate Bipolar Disorder’s Depression?
80beats: To Help Heroin Addicts, Give Them… Prescription Heroin?
DISCOVER: Peyote on the Brain
DISCOVER: Treating Agony With Ecstasy

Image: Wikimedia Commons

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain
  • http://clubneko.net/ nick

    Prohibition has never and will never work. :)

  • Cameron

    The ban was also widely slated by government health and drug officials, and was really just a backlash from tabloids. This was a much more harmless drug than alcohol will ever be, and the reports that someone tried to behead their grandmother sound about as likely as reports from 50 years ago that users of cannabis could fight off ten strong men.

  • Alison

    it will work nick, no girl wants to be with a man whos going to do drugs his whole life.

  • fast jimmy

    @ Alison.

    Ever meet a rock star? An “artist”? A thug? A “player”?
    Women often think they can change the men they are attracted too.
    Some simply do not care as long as they are wealthy or cool.
    Some seem to be attracted to men who will treat them like their fathers/stepfathers did (Sorry for this reality…).
    Some like drugs.

    Men with drugs often enough, have no trouble finding “friends”.

  • David George

    And imagine, the “drug” war started because American college students smoked low-grade pot, and their eyes were opened — and they didn’t fancy going to Vietnam on behalf of a corrupt system!

  • fatkid

    Is it cheaper than cocaine? are they going to start cutting coke with this stuff now too? What’s this world coming to when you can’t even trust the stranger in the bar that sells you coke?

  • quarksparrow

    @David George: Drug use is just drug use. It’s not ingestible enlightenment. Why do people worship narcotics to the degree that they do?

  • http://LegalhighdrugsawarenessNorthernIreland(facebookgroup) Ricky J

    Well hasnt alot happened since this was posted. In many states from a ‘legal high’ based company so called bath salts are being shipped to the UK and the states were salts are still legal. I can assure you in N.ireland these highs though legal are creating addicts and serious health problems for users. One particular bath salt ‘ocean snow’ is more potent than UK Class B drug mephedrone and more addictive. It can be bought for 25 quid a gram in powder form in Belfast city centre drug paraphernalia shops. The comedown is so bad users keep topping up buying more. Addicts report after 3 days abstinence of severe depression,cravings,paranoia and even suicidal thoughts. The sickening law once banned ocean snow as it was found to contain chemical methylone-similar to mephedrone only for the drug company to change the name to ocean snow ULTRA with a tweaked chemical to get through UK laws. Yes its true a dangerous chemical was changed to what proved to be a more stronger one. The national health service offers an 8 wk waiting list to talk to a drug counsellor who knows nothing about bath salts or as a despicable last resort a wait for one of ten beds for rehab. Ten beds in a whole health sector area for an epidemic of addicts. Sadly in rehab whereas heroin addicts have drugs to stop withdrawls,salts users as there is little known about them just have to go cold turkey! Just to sign off the euphoria,empathy and chatty positives that come with bath salt use is shortlived. Countless hospital admittences have occured with users suffering severe chest pains,strokes and psychotic episodes etc. It goes without saying its unreal these products which are stronger than most illegal drugs are sold online and in shops over the counter. Only thing people like myself can do is educate….

  • Gerry

    No help from the Health Service or Police in Befast, even with emergency calls, totally useless, and now I have a very paranoid daughter on the Ocean drug!, leading her to be continually abused by the pushers and without the backup of the aforementioned. Nightmare!

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

80beats

80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »