The DEA has just instituted a temporary ban on a new designer drug called "bath salts." The name has no connection to what people put in their bath water. This is a stimulant drug that has been equated to knock-off versions of cocaine and ecstasy. The drug gets its name because it comes in a powder or crystal form, just like traditional bath water salts. The drug can be consumed by snorting, injecting or smoking it.
The salts contain the chemicals mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone. Both are related to khat, a leaf-like organic stimulant grown in Arab and East African countries that is illegal in the United States.
Increasing Popularity of Designer Drugs
The drug has gained popularity in the U.S. during the past year, and people experiencing adverse side effects have started turning up in hospitals for emergency treatment. Doctors say the drugs have extremely dangerous and long-lasting effects such as agitation, violence and psychotic behavior. Sedatives have a minimal calming effect when treating bath salt tweakers.
The increase in bath salt use during 2011 was enormous. From January to June of this year, U.S. poison control centers received 3,470 calls about bath salts. During the entire year of 2010, the center received only 303 calls. This represents a 1,000% increase during the first half of 2011 alone.
Bath Salt Drug Trends
Other names for bath salts are "plant food/fertilizer" and "toy cleaner." They're available for purchase in retail stores, head shops and online. Prices range from $25 to $50 for a 50-milligram packet.
The U.S. is actually a late adopter in the bath salt trend. Bath salts already had their run in Britain before the country banned the drug in 2010. The majority of the drug supply is coming from China and India, where chemical manufacturers run into less government interference. They are able to legally import the drug into the U.S. by labeling the packages "not for human consumption." Ironic...
The DEA Ban
The DEA's temporary ban will make it illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell bath salts anywhere in the U.S. Violators will be shut down, arrested and prosecuted according to the law. However, chemists and distributors seem indifferent by the new law as evidenced by the fact that bathsaltsdrug.com is still online and selling product. They even posted a review of their latest offering on September 7th.
It's likely that few sellers will be affected by the ban. The reason is simple: chemists can make a minor tweak to the drug, which gives it a whole new name and molecular structure. In order for the substance to be declared illegal, its exact make-up has to be outlawed. By making minor changes on a continuous basis, the drug makers can stay one step ahead of the law.