Lifestyle & Belief

New recreation drug, "bath salts," causing legal headaches ... and much worse


Baggies of typical "bath salts" are seen in Washington, DC.


Paul J. Richards

A new stimulant drug — legal in many U.S. states — is reportedly turning users (or perhaps misusers)  "violent and psychotic," and leading to people needing sedation, treatment for heart and kidney failure, and even causing suicides.

"Bath salts" — in powder or crystal form, like your regular bath salts — are already banned in 29 states, mostly in the South and the Midwest, and the DEA is considering federal action as reports of overdose are up 400 percent compared with last year (that's 3,000 to date in 2011), the San Francisco Examiner reports.

Yet in New York, among other places, until this week they could be bought in convenience stores because of a label that says "not for human consumption," the New York Times reports.

And people have been buying them — in head shops, liquor stores and online — and reportedly snorting, injecting, or smoking them, with the effects reportedly lasting up to four days.

The Examiner quotes the San Francisco Bath Salt Company as "clarifying the differences between real bath salts and dangerous drugs merely being labeled as "bath salts," usually made in India or China and "aggressively marketed as a legal way to get high.

And this week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted a law banning certain types of bath salts.

"Deceptively labeled as 'bath salts' these dangerous products have become an alternative to methamphetamine use with disastrous results," Cuomo reportedly said in a statement. "They are a growing danger to public health and today's signing to ban these products is a critical step towards ridding New York of these harmful drugs."

Salts banned under the law are those containing synthetic chemicals that act as hallucinogens, a statement from the governor’s office reportedly says, namely "Methylmethcathinone, which is also known as Mephedrone and Methylenedioxymovalcrone, or MDPV."

However, on Sunday, headlines were still referring to "Bath Salts, the New Legal Stimulant." The State Column describes the drug as similar to "khat, an organic stimulant in Arab and East African countries" and also "synthetic marijuana."

However, the Examiner reports that while on the drug, users have been Tasered to no effect.

Sounds like some pretty powerful khat (qat) and/or marijuana to us.