Friday, September 30, 2011

Bath Salts Must Be Banned Under Federal Law

Bath Salts Must Be Banned Under Federal Law | The Exception Magazine

Bath Salts Must Be Banned Under Federal Law

Susan Collins represents Maine in the United States Senate. This is a guest op-ed and the Exception Magazine does not necessarily endorse the views expressed below.
They are called "bath salts," marketed under such appealing labels as "Vanilla Sky" and "Ivory Wave." The truth is, however, the correct name for this new breed of devastating drugs is "time bomb."
These dangerous drugs, synthetic stimulants, first burst upon the American scene last year. Since then, use has skyrocketed here in Maine and throughout the country. With the increased use of bath salts have come alarming reports of extremely hazardous and long-lasting effects.
Those effects include immediate dangers - highly elevated blood pressures, heart rates, and body temperatures, followed by psychosis, delusions, and hallucinations that lead to wildly irrational, self-destructive, and violent behavior. These psychological symptoms can persist for weeks and even months after ingestion, and can flare up without warning. Emergency rooms have reported cases in which a small army of medical workers cannot subdue people under the influence of bath salts and even large doses of sedatives do not calm them down.
During the first six months of this year, poison-control centers across the country had handled nearly 3,500 bath salt emergencies, more than 10 times the number from all of last year. Causes of death range from cardiac arrest to suicide.
In the face of this epidemic, Maine and 31 other states have banned the sale and possession of bath salts. Tragically, these harmful chemicals remain legal in the remaining states and, even worse, under federal law.
I am a co-sponsor of bipartisan legislation that would make the synthetic chemicals used to make bath salts illegal throughout the United States. The "Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act" would ban mephedrone and MDPV under the federal Controlled Substances Act as drugs that have no legitimate medical value and a high potential for abuse.
In early September, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency invoked its emergency authority and instituted a ban on those chemicals, which will take effect this month and last for one year. This is a necessary step given the crisis, but it is no substitute for action by Congress to outlaw the drugs permanently.
Bath salts are a chilling example of the need to remain vigilant on drug abuse trends and to make sure that our drug laws meet emerging challenges.
These drugs are called "bath salts" because they are marketed as such, even though they bear no relation to the perfectly legal and harmless compounds that provide a relaxing soak in the tub. They are sold in some head shops, liquor stores, convenience stores, and on the Internet, at prices vastly higher than real bath salts. The packaging bears the caution "Not for human consumption," which allows dealers to skirt federal drug laws.
The legislation I have co-sponsored would close that loophole. In addition, although states can ban the sale in stores within their borders, federal action is needed to shut down the Internet pipeline.
No region of Maine has been immune to this threat. Our state's leaders, law-enforcement officials, and medical personnel deserve credit for responding quickly to alert the public to the dangers and to discourage experimentation. But this is not a battle Maine or any other state can fight alone. This is a national threat that requires national action.
So-called "designer drugs" -- new compounds created in the lab to be just different enough chemically to be legal -- are a growing and persistent threat. With the use bath salts rapidly increasing, the longer we wait to permanently ban the chemicals used to make them, the more we put people at senseless risk. The delayed psychological effects of bath salts make them a time bomb for users, and the proliferation of these dangerous drugs make them a time bomb for society.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maine senators co-sponsor federal bath salts bill

original source:

Maine’s two U.S. senators have taken notice of the bath salts epidemic in the state and are co-sponsoring federal legislation that would ban the synthetic drug.

“Disturbing reports of violent and self-destructive behavior are just the tip of the iceberg,” Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe said Tuesday of the dangerous stimulant, which began to surface in Maine last February.

She and fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins both support the passage of the Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act, proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., which would ban methedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, known as MDPV, key ingredients of bath salts.

Bath salts are a lab-made drug that can cause hallucinations, convulsions, psychotic episodes and thoughts of suicide, police officials in Maine and other states are reporting.

“We’re seeing extreme paranoia” in people who have taken the drug, Thomaston Police Chief Kevin Haj said Tuesday. They often believe that someone is after them, he added, and also exhibit signs of psychosis.

Bath salts users are a danger to themselves, others and the law enforcement and emergency medical personnel dispatched to help them, Haj said.

Users of the drug also experience increased heart rates, agitation, anxiety, a diminished requirement for sleep and lack of appetite, Maine police and doctors have said.

“Maine hospitals reported 29 overdoses of bath salts in the month of July compared with zero six months ago,” Snowe said. “Bangor Chief of Police Ron Gastia recently reported his police department typically sees 1 to 3 incidents of bath salts use each day.”

In recent months, Bangor-area police have dealt with numerous people who believed others were out to kill them, a man who attempted to grab an officer’s gun, a woman with a knife who followed a couple in downtown Bangor and a man who attempted suicide by cop — all after consuming the drug.

A Bangor transient was charged Monday night after she knocked on a stranger’s door and told the woman who answered that she was looking for her mother, Bangor police Sgt. Allen Hayden said Tuesday. The Sanford Street resident immediately called police.

Responding officers knew right away that “something was not right in the way she was acting,” the sergeant said of Casandra Bean, 20.

Bean was found in possession of bath salts and given two tickets, one for possession of hallucinogenic drugs and one for sale and use of drug paraphernalia. She was not arrested, Hayden said.

Bath salts became illegal in Maine at the beginning of July, but those caught with the drug are issued a civil offense and dealers face only a misdemeanor charge.

Maine legislators, led by Gov. Paul LePage, are looking to stiffen bath salts penalties and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is working to make three of the main components of the stimulant a Schedule 1 drug, the same class as heroin and LSD.

The DEA’s ban will take effect in early October and remain in place for at least one year while the agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study a permanent ban on methedrone, MDPV and Methylone, another ingredient of bath salts.

The federal bill supported by Snowe and Collins would make two of those components illegal much faster and on a permanent basis. They are urging quick congressional approval.

“With the use of this drug rapidly increasing, the longer we wait to permanently ban the substance, the more we put people at senseless risk,” Collins said Tuesday.

The bill has been placed on the Senate’s legislative calendar.

Public forums have been held in Bangor and Presque Isle in recent weeks to educate residents about bath salts, also known on the streets of the Queen City as “monkey dust.” Another forum, hosted by the Piscataquis Public Health Council, is scheduled for 6:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday atFoxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft.

The Knox County Community Health Coalition, Rockland District Nursing Association and Rockland Police Department will host a community training session about bath salts from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Rockland City Council chambers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Senator says DEA will place emergency nationwide ban on deadly ‘bath salts’

Senator says DEA will place emergency nationwide ban on deadly ‘bath salts’

Posted Septemeber 9, 2011 

WASHINGTON – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is moving to place a ban on the possession and sale of chemicals or products that contain Mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone – the key ingredients of ‘bath salts’. In January, Schumer called on the DEA to ban Mephedrone and MDPV, and had subsequently introduced the Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act of 2011 to ban them if the DEA had not acted. With today’s DEA announcement, these chemicals will be made illegal for a least one year while the agency and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) continue to study whether these chemicals should be permanently banned. Bath salts have a similar effect on the body as cocaine and methamphetamines. The dangerous ingredients in the drugs can be snorted, smoked, and injected.

“I am pleased the DEA has finally heeded our call to ban these drugs by making them illegal controlled substances. While this is a solid first step, we need to ensure that these drugs stay off the market for good,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “I will push to permanently ban these drugs until the threat of this scourge is removed from our neighborhoods, our schools, and from store counters across the country.”

Bath Salts are sold online, at convenience stores, and in smoke shops under names like Tranquility, Zoom, Ivory Wave, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky. According to numerous reports, the chemicals found in these bath salts and plant foods cause effects similar to those caused by cocaine and Methamphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. In one case, a user was reported to have resorted to self-mutilation after abusing the substance. In several cases, users have died after overdosing or because of violent behavior.

The synthetic chemicals in bath salts are uncontrolled substances with no known medicinal purpose. The harmful impact of these powders has been recognized around the country, and a majority of states in the US have banned the substance. Countries around the world have also banned the substance, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Israel.

In January, Schumer announced that he would be introducing legislation to ban the drugs. Schumer’s legislation would make bath salts illegal in the United States by adding the active ingredients to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies drugs that are illegal and cannot be prescribed under any circumstances.

Wednesday’s announcement indicates the DEA will ban the possession and sale of bath salts nationwide. In 30 days or more, the DEA plans to issue the order, which will classify these drugs as Schedule I substances. The DEA exercised its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily control these stimulants, banning them for one year once the final order is given. The DEA reports that they had been receiving an increasing number of reports from poison centers, hospitals, and law enforcement regarding these products.