Congress considers drug crackdown on 'bath salts'
February 8th, 2011
06:02 PM ET
12 years ago

Congress considers drug crackdown on 'bath salts'

Washington (CNN) - Congress will consider cracking down on a new drug that is similar to cocaine but is marketed as a household product and sold legally at convenience stores across the country.

Democratic New York Sen. Charles Schumer plans to introduce a bill to put these drugs - which are sold in small paper packets innocuously labeled "bath salts" - onto a list of controlled substances that would allow for government oversight.

"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 across the country," Schumer said in a statement. "The consequences of delaying action are deadly."

The packets actually contain what a drug expert says is a synthetic version of cocaine or ecstasy. Instead of sprinkling the packet into a bath, a user can smoke the drugs for a quick high.

"A lot of the stuff comes in a Kool-Aid-type package," said Michael O'Neil, an associate professor at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy and chairman of the West Virginia Controlled Substance Advisory Board, who has served as a consultant with the Drug Enforcement Agency and has spoken to teen groups in the state about the danger of using these drugs. "You get these big highs, euphoria, often hallucinations, and they are stimulants as well, so they can cause a lot of psychosis."

Florida and Louisiana have banned the sale of these drugs, and West Virginia legislators are considering a similar ban. The packets, with names like Red Dawn or Purple Wave, can cost between $20 and $80 and can also be purchased online.

Since the drugs are not meant to be ingested, their effects on humans haven't been studied and are not always recognized in hospital emergency rooms, O'Neil said.

But media and law enforcement reports of bizarre behavior, including people under the influence of these drugs behaving erratically while hallucinating, prompted several states to take action.

The White House drug czar also put out a warning about the "bath salts" and said poison control centers have reported a sharp rise in calls about the drugs - more than 250 calls so far this year.

"Although we lack sufficient data to understand exactly how prevalent the use of these stimulants are, we know they pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of young people and anyone who may use them," said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, in a statement.

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. D-NICE

    Legalize the real stuff, that way the kids won't be ingesting a bunch of chemicals that we don't know what they will do to you. Conventional drug affects are well known. Who knows what this stuff could be doing to people. Drugs are bad but untested chemicals that you can buy at the carry-out are worse. What a screwed up society we live in.

    February 8, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Our children are buying this mess at the corner stores and it needs to be banned now.

    February 8, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  3. Monster Zero

    From Schumer's actions regarding his tenure in Congress it is readily apparent that he has been abusing bath salts for years, that could be the only explanation for his inability to process logical thought. I just wonder who is importing this crap into our Nation and where is the existing Federal law that is in place to prevent this kind of abuse.

    February 8, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  4. T'sah from Virginia

    Dang – I did not even know this so-called salt-drug existed! I heard the other day that NUTMEG was also being smoked!! What's next, toothpaste?

    February 8, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. Betty He

    whoa that is weird drugs in bath salts...........weird

    February 8, 2011 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |