Bath Salt Poisonings are Rising as Federal Government Works to Pass Laws
Poison control centers are fielding a record number of calls about “bath salts” while the Federal government efforts to ban the chemicals have been halted. In 2011, nearly 7,000 people called in to poison control centers with emergencies related to this synthetic marijuana. That was more than double the number from the previous year.
Last year the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an emergency one-year ban on the chemicals used to make “bath salts” that have been getting teens so high that some stop breathing after one use. These chemicals are not related to salts you put in your bathtub. Their name comes from their resemblance to the powder or crystals used. The ban will be lifted in September and those who propose to ban it forever through the Senate are getting anxious.
Too Accessible, Too Powerful
The rising number of people seeking emergency help after using bath salts is because the drug is so accessible and deceptively powerful. People can purchase it at places such as convenience stores, gas stations, and over the Internet. It is so appealing because the chemicals do not show up on a standard drug test.
According to substance abuse counselor, Jeff Voshall, the drugs may produce symptoms of over-stimulation, psychotic delusions, anxiety, violent behavior, self-mutilation, damage to the nervous system, difficulty breathing, and permanent damage to the body. Some of the effects can last for days. At its worst, many teenage casualties have been reported from accidental overdose on the drug. For some teens, it was the first time they ever used the drug.
Attempting to Ban an Ever-Changing Product
Since the DEA placed a temporary ban on the drug, the Food and Drug Administration has been testing the multiple chemicals put into this synthetic marijuana. Each chemical must be studied in order to place harmful chemicals in the Controlled Substances Act. Once listed here, the chemicals could be recognized as being as harmful as marijuana and cocaine. Meanwhile, crafty producers of these bath salts are rearranging the chemical compounds so that it will be more difficult to ban their products.
Currently, 34 states have outlawed bath salts, but their bans are only temporarily effective. After Florida placed a ban on bath salt chemicals last year, manufacturers illegally changed the molecular makeup of the drug to evade the ban. Florida then had to amend their ban to include over 90 new chemicals. This cyclical battle is happening all over the nation. The only way to slow it is to pass a ban through the Federal Government.
Stuck in the Senate
The real battle to ban bath salts and synthetic marijuana is now in the Federal Government. The legislation to ban it was opposed by Kentucky Republican Senator, Rand Paul and it has halted on the Senate floor.
Current state bans try to prevent manufacturers from changing formulas to avoid the ban. A Federal ban could do much more. With a Federal ban, those who import drugs, sell the drugs, and ship the drugs could be prosecuted.
False Sense of Security
Voshall and others across the nation fear that teens don’t realize that something they can purchase on the Internet is really as bad as taking marijuana or cocaine. Through community awareness, he and many others hope to bring awareness of this dangerous drug and to its life-threatening risks.