Entries in Bath Salts (9)


Congress Approves Ban on Just 2 of 17 'Bath Salts' Chemicals

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Federal law enforcement officials, eager to get a deadly array of toxic drugs known as "bath salts" off the streets, say they are frustrated that bureaucratic politics got in the way of congressional lawmakers drafting a comprehensive ban.

"Bath salts are the worst of the worst of the synthetic drugs," said a law enforcement source familiar with the congressional negotiations. "It makes no sense why they aren't all included in the bill."

The bill in question would add an array of ever evolving synthetic drugs to the federal list of illegal substances, but conspicuously missing are many of the elements used in bath salts. The omission has led some lawmakers to accuse their colleagues, particularly Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., of choosing political expediency over public safety.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently submitted a list of 41 synthetic drugs it wanted Congress to place on the "Schedule I" list of federally criminalized drugs that already includes heroin, cocaine and meth. Among those were 17 chemicals used to produce bath salts, a stimulant believed to have played a role in a spate of grisly incidents including a May assault in Florida in which an attacker allegedly high on the drug chewed off a homeless man's face.

A conference of House and Senate lawmakers last week agreed to ban just two variants of bath salts, leading cops to wonder why only limited steps were taken.

A bill that was recently passed in the House of Representatives sought to add all 17 bath salt chemicals to the government's list of controlled substances. In the Senate, an amendment to an FDA act listed just two bath salts compounds, MDPV and mephedrone.

When House and Senate negotiators concluded their conference talks this week, they agreed to criminalize 26 synthetic drugs, including those found in synthetic marijuana and the street drugs "K2" and "Spice," but listed only the two bath salts chemicals named in the Senate legislation.

Ironically, and to the consternation of law enforcement officials desperate to get bath salts off the street, those two drugs are already illegal after the DEA put them on an "emergency schedule" list last year.

The DEA has no official statistics on arrests or prosecutions for bath salts, a testament to the drug's rapid popularity and the variety of chemicals that fall under the "bath salts" street label.

Between 2010 and 2011, however, the number of calls to poison control centers nationwide related to bath salts increased from 303 to over 6,000, a more than 1,800 percent increase.

Law enforcement officials contend that including all the known bath salts substances on the schedule will make it easier to prosecute the criminals who import, sell and possess the deadly chemicals. If a drug is on the list of controlled substances, investigations and prosecutions can proceed quickly.

"There are no questions about the drug if it's a controlled substance. We just know it's illegal and can get to work. Already, lots of time is wasted just waiting for lab results to come back," said a DEA official.

Law enforcement officials as well as several congressional staffers not authorized to speak on the record but familiar with the negotiations say Leahy chose not to include the additional 15 bath salt drugs included in the House bill.

"Those 15 got lost because in the conference there was some procedural issue and Leahy didn't want to bother with it," said a Senate staffer.

"Bath salts were in the House bill. And they're not in this one. You'd have to ask Sen. Leahy why that happened," said a staffer for a House Republican.

Leahy did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News, but a Judiciary Committee staffer defended Leahy's decision to put just two of the 17 substances in the final version of the bill, saying "Leahy's focus was to get done what the Senate started. The House bill was out there, but not in a formal way."

He argued that with a bitterly divided Congress, getting consensus on a bill as complex as the FDA Safety and Innovation Act was an accomplishment.

When asked why not criminalize drugs that the DEA says it needs listed to help keep the streets safe, the committee staffer said, "Sen. Leahy has been clear that scheduling controlled substances is not something to be taken lightly."

"It is not without implication to put a whole lot of chemicals on the federal drug schedule," he said. "It means putting more people in jail and makes it harder to seek legitimate uses for these drugs. Leahy is most comfortable sticking with what has been carefully considered."

On background DEA officials were frustrated that the bill did not go far enough, but publically the agency "commended House and Senate negotiators for agreeing on legislation to control 26 synthetic drugs."

The bill also gives the DEA new powers to temporarily declare drugs illegal without going through the lengthy scheduling process to permanently criminalize them. Under the new law the agency can place drugs on a two-year "emergency schedule." Currently, the DEA can only emergency schedule a drug for one year.

In the meantime, one DEA official said, agents will be playing a "game of whack-a-mole," discovering new drugs and trying to classify them fast enough to prosecute offenders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Bath Salts': Use of Dangerous Drug Increasing Across US

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A Delaware senator has praised pending legislation proposing a nationwide ban on "bath salts," a dangerous synthetic drug that's on the rise in the United States and might have led to the recent attack in Miami where a man allegedly ate off 80 percent of a homeless man's face.

"Dangerous drugs like bath salts are terrorizing our communities and destroying lives," Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said in a statement Monday.  "Stricter measures must be taken to stem the growing prevalence of bath salts and other new designer drugs."

The number of calls to poison centers concerning "bath salts" rose to 6,138 in 2011 from 304 in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.  More than 1,000 calls have been made so far this year.

These so-called bath salts, not to be confused with cleansing products, are an inexpensive, synthetic, super-charged form of speed.  The drug consists of a potpourri of constantly changing chemicals, three of which -- mephedrone, MDPV and methylone -- were banned last year by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Bath salts are still easily available online, though, and come in brand names such as "Purple Wave," "Zoom" or "Cloud Nine."  A 50-milligram packet sells for $25 to $50.

The drugs create a condition police have come to call an "excited delirium" that makes users paranoid, violent and unpredictable.  Miami police last month shot and killed a man who was allegedly feasting on the face of a homeless man in a daylight attack on a busy highway.  Police are investigating whether the drugs found in bath salts were in the alleged attacker's system.

In most cases, the active ingredient found in bath salts is a chemical known as metheylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV for short.  As far as the effects they have, bath salts are a central nervous system stimulant that acts something like a mix of methamphetamine and cocaine.

They dramatically increase the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the human brain in two dangerous ways: by pouring more dopamine in as methamphetamine does, and at the same time, like cocaine, trapping both of these chemicals in the brain, so the user doesn't come down.

It's a dangerous situation, leading to a high that some drug abuse experts describe as up to 13 times more potent than cocaine.  The altered mental status it brings can lead to panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and violent behavior.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Synthetic Drug Amped Used to Get High

George Doyle/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) -- Amped, a new type of synthetic drug that falls into the street category of “bath salts,” is being used by people in Virginia to get high, and likely in other parts of the country as well.

The drug is touted as a ladybug attractant, but at least six cases of people ingesting the chemical compound have been reported in Eastern and Central Virginia, according to Dr. Rutherfoord Rose, director of the Virginia Poison Center.

Amped is only the latest of these bath salts to hit the web and convenience stores.  Others, such as “Zoom,” Cloud Nine,” and “Ivory Wave” are similar recreational drugs that have amphetamine-like qualities.  They increase blood pressure and heart rate, and many people have experienced paranoia, violent behavior, hallucinations and delusions while high, Rose said.  Some users have even committed suicide while on the drug.

“Despite laws that have outlawed certain chemicals within these drugs, chemists easily change a chemical or molecule within the compound to give it a similar or more potent property, and, because it is a different chemical entity, it is no longer illegal,” said Rose.

The drugs are often disguised as incense, plant foods and cleaners.  They carry warning labels that caution against human consumption, and the label notes the illegal ingredients that are not in the compound, but it does not actually list the ingredients that are in it.

People can smoke, snort or even inject the bath salts.  On one website that sells the bath salt, a one-gram container of costs $34.95.

In 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers said there were 6,138 calls regarding exposure to bath salts, up from 304 in 2010.

“This is becoming a public health problem,” said Rose.  “These street chemists are probably getting three or four more products ready to come out for when the other ones go off the market or get outlawed.  Unless we get smart enough to outlaw all the chemicals at one time, this is just going to continue on.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Bites Car, Bath Salts to Blame?

Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office(SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Fla.) -- A Florida man showing signs of being under the influence of bath salts bit the hood of a police cruiser, scraping off the paint and causing nearly $600 in damage while officers attempted to restrain him, local police allege.

According to police reports, 47-year-old Eric Scott of Milton, Fla., had been knocking on neighbors' doors and asking them to call 911, saying he needed medical assistance. When officers from the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's office arrived, Scott allegedly began to walk away from them while cursing to himself, before throwing his flash light at a nearby mailbox and screaming "over and over" at the officers to shoot him.

He already had several self inflicted injuries to his hands and blood coming from his nose, police Sgt. Scott Haines told ABC News.

Police allege that as they waited for emergency responders to arrive, Scott, then detained in handcuffs, began to scrape his teeth across the hood of their patrol car, digging through the paint down to the metal. Scott was transported to a local hospital, where he continued to ask police and hospital workers to kill him. Scott was released from the hospital but could still face charges of criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence.

Scott displayed numerous symptoms of using bath salts including, "erratic behavior, confusion, loss of direction, and aggression towards law enforcement," according to police reports.

"We unfortunately have to deal with [suspects on bath salts] pretty frequently and all of his actions were consistent with someone who was on that," Haines told ABC News.

A woman who answered the phone at Scott's residence -- and who could be overheard passing along questions to someone else in the room -- told ABC News Scott claimed he was not on bath salts.

"Just beer and vodka," she said.

Last June, an investigation that aired on ABC News’ 20/20 revealed the dangers of the then-legal bath salts, which have been linked to violent, sometimes deadly outbursts by users.

"They're selling time bombs," Louisiana Poison Control Center Director Dr. Mark Ryan told ABC News during the investigation. "We've had some people show up who are complaining of chest pains so severe that they think they're having a heart attack. They think they're dying... They have extreme paranoia. They're having hallucinations. They see things, they hear things, monsters, demons, aliens."

The synthetic substance, which has since been placed under an emergency ban by the DEA while a bill to permanently ban it awaits a vote by the Senate, has been linked to a number of bizarre episodes over the past year, including a New Orleans woman's arm being devoured by a flesh-eating disease in January and a West Virginia man dressed in women's underwear slaying a goat last May.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Votes to Ban Fake Marijuana, Fake Cocaine

George Doyle/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House Thursday voted to ban a variety of synthetic drugs, including "spice," and "bath salts," that had previously been sold legally in stores throughout the country.

The Synthetic Drug Control Act would add over 30 synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, making them illegal to manufacture or dispense. It would also grant the Drug Enforcement Agency more authority to place temporary bans on potentially dangerous drugs as they are investigated.

The bill passed by a vote of 317-98; some Democrats argued the law would make it harder for scientists to obtain needed chemicals for medical research.

An ABC News investigation that aired on "20/20" earlier this year found that spice and bath salts, despite being linked to multiple deaths, were being sold to teenagers across the country with little to no oversight.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), who introduced the bill, said in a statement Thursday that he was shocked when he first learned that these drugs were being sold legally in stores and online.

The bill now moves to the Senate, where Rep. Dent said he is "hopeful" it will be passed quickly.

"I am confident banning the sale of dangerous synthetic drugs will help save lives in communities across the United States," said Dent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


DEA Announces Emergency Ban on 'Bath Salts'

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday it will use its emergency authority to ban chemicals used in legal synthetic drugs known as "bath salts," calling the chemicals an "imminent hazard" to the public.

"This imminent action by the DEA demonstrates that there is no tolerance for those who manufacture, distribute, or sell these drugs anywhere in the country, and that those who do will be shut down, arrested, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement on the DEA website. "DEA has made it clear we will not hesitate to use our emergency scheduling authority to control these dangerous chemicals that pose a significant and growing threat to our nation."

In June, an ABC News 20/20 investigation found that despite being linked to multiple deaths, "bath salts" have been sold across the country with little to no oversight, sometimes to teens.

The DEA describes the so-called "bath salts," which have nothing in common with products long used in bathing, as a sort of imitation cocaine or LSD -- a substance that, while legal, has not been approved by the FDA for human consumption and has been linked to violent, sometimes deadly outbursts by users. Varieties of "bath salts" are sold under different labels in corner stores across the U.S. as well as online and have prompted thousands of calls to Poison Control nationwide.

"They're selling time bombs," Louisiana Poison Control Center Director Dr. Mark Ryan said in the course of the ABC News investigation. "We've had some people show up who are complaining of chest pains so severe that they think they're having a heart attack. They think they're dying...They have extreme paranoia. They're having hallucinations. They see things, they hear things, monsters, demons, aliens."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), proposed a national ban on the chemicals used in bath salts in February. Thirty-three states already have measures to control the substance.

"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," Schumer said. "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."

The DEA emergency ban will take effect in 30 days and will make it illegal to possess or sell mephedrone, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone -- all key ingredients for "bath salts" -- or any products which contain the chemicals for one year while the DEA works with the Department of Health and Human Services to "further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Imitation Cocaine' Killed Florida Man, Say Authorities

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- An autopsy has determined that a Florida man died after ingesting "bath salts," just two days after Gov. Rick Scott signed a state law banning the synthetic drugs, which had been sold legally in stores and on the Internet.

A toxicologist with the medical examiner's office of Hillsborough County, Fla., said that Jairious McGhee, 23, died from an overdose of methylone, one of the chemicals sold as bath salts and used as a form of imitation cocaine. Julia Pearson said methylone was found in McGhee's blood after tests for other better-known drugs were negative.

An ABC News investigation to air on 20/20 Friday found that "legal drugs" like bath salts, "K2" and "spice" that mimic the effects of cocaine and marijuana were widely available on the Internet and in suburban malls and convenience stores. Bath salts, which have nothing in common with the products long used in bathing, are legally sold in more than 30 states, and there is no federal ban on them. The Florida law banning six different chemicals sold as bath salts was signed Tuesday, but an emergency rule issued in January by the state's attorney general had already made it a felony to possess or distribute them.

McGhee died in Tampa on April 3 after an April 2 altercation with police. Officers described him as behaving erratically, walking in traffic, and beating on cars. He was initially diagnosed with viral meningitis, and when he died his body temperature had risen to more than 105 degrees. Though McGhee, who had been fighting with officers, had been Tased, the medical examiner's office said the prongs never touched his skin and the Tasing did not contribute to his death.

Bath salts have been linked to 2,500 calls to poison control centers nationwide, and can produce paranoia, hallucinations and rapid increase in heart rate and body. Washington state authorities are investigating whether a soldier who shot and killed his wife and then himself during a high-speed car chase in April was using bath salts. In May, when 19-year-old Mark Thompson of West Virginia was found wearing women's underwear and standing over a goat's dead body, he told police he had been using bath salts.

"I hesitate to even hold some of this stuff in my hands for fear that it could cause a problem," said Dr. Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Control Center. Louisiana has been an epicenter of bath salt abuse, with 221 calls to the state's Poison Control Center since Dr. Ryan saw his first case last September. "We've had some people show up who are complaining of chest pains so severe that they think they're having a heart attack. They think they're dying."

Congress is currently weighing a federal ban on bath salts, which are still sold legally in most states and via the Web. "Our teens and young adults need to understand that just because something's legal doesn't mean it's safe," said Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Gary Boggs. "Our parents need to, to pay attention to what our kids are, are ordering over the Internet."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senator Looks to Impose Nationwide Ban on Bath Salts

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Following bans in Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota, and a warning from White House Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, New York Senator Charles Schumer has proposed a bill that would add bath salts to a list of federally-controlled substances.

"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," Schumer said in a February 1st statement.

The synthetic drugs, sold online, in convenience stores and in smoke shops, can affect the body in ways similar to cocaine and methamphetamines.

"The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in," Schumer said.  "These so-called bath salts are dangerous drugs masquerading as a harmless product.  They offer a cheap and deadly high, and we need to move immediately to get them off the shelves."

Schumer has also asked New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah to ban the chemicals statewide.  Other states, such as Idaho, are following suit.  The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel have already banned the chemicals.

The recent flurry of legislation stems from mounting reports of bath salts, plant food and incense made with methylenedioxypyrovalerone and mephedrone causing hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, even some deaths.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Designer Drugs Masquerade as 'Bath Salts,' Worry Officials

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Across the country, chemicals that can commonly be found in things like pond scum remover and plant food are being smoked and inhaled with very scary results. While certain drugs like marijuana bring a high, these drugs can bring unintended hallucinogenic effects.

Health officials from the Gulf Coast to California have seen cases of people smoking drugs with names like "ivory snow" and "vanilla sky," that mimic symptoms of schizophrenia. Authorities say people on these drugs will see things that are not real, and in extreme cases, commit suicide, like one man from Louisiana who shot himself after smoking one of the bath salts.

The drugs are deceptively packaged because of their ingredients, but have still become highly popular.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal has placed a ban on the product.

"These drugs have crept into our communities and they are hurting our kids. We have to do everything in our power to protect our children and to make sure our streets are safe for our families. The reality is that the chemicals used to make these dangerous substances have no legitimate use other than to provide a high for the user. Make no mistake – these are very dangerous drugs and we must get them off our streets," Jindal said.

In the first week of January when Jindal made the announcement, the state had already seen 165 cases related to bath salt drugs, which represented over 50 percent of all cases in the country. Jindal has since contacted the Drug Enforcement Administration to ask for a federal investigation.

In a majority of states, however, these deceptive drugs are still legal. The DEA says while it can look into the drugs, it would take years to classify them as illegal. The drugs are still easily available online and in stores across the country.

While there is little the federal government can currently do, DEA officials say state bans may be the most effective method of combating this deadly problem.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio