In the wake of a grisly attack in Miami in which an assailant chewed off a large portion of a homeless man’s face while allegedly high on a drug known as “bath salts,” authorities nationwide are now viewing the drug as an increasing health and security concern. The Miami case would not be an isolated incident of violence associated with bath salts, a drug capable of inducing psychotic episodes. The strangulation death of a 19-year-old Colorado man who authorities say had ingested a synthetic drug could be an indication of the emerging threat posed by such compounds, a federal drug agent said Friday. Then last week there was the story of the Pennsylvania woman who has been charged with smoking bath salts just two days after giving birth while still in the maternity ward.
Synthetic drug makers have been able to skirt the Arizona ban of the drug by changing out some of the chemicals that are on the banned list. Police say the drug mimics the effects of potent stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine and is every bit as dangerous. The drugs are known to cause agitation and increased heart rate and blood pressure. In severe cases, paranoia, hallucinations and aggressive behavior can occur. Sadly, many kids have ended up in the hospital as a result of using bath salts. Banner Poison Control Center received two calls regarding the drug in 2010. That number exploded to more than 250 calls in 2011 and they’ve taken in about 70 calls in the first six months of 2012.
Congress has recently adopted a “get tough” stance on synthetic drugs. The U.S. Senate approved a bill last week that could be on the president’s desk by very soon to ban the sale of synthetic drugs. That bill would make it illegal to sell synthetic marijuana and bath salts anywhere in the United States, regardless of local laws. First time offenders would receive 20 years in prison. Repeat sellers would spend 30 years behind bars. The DEA issued an emergency ban in October on three ingredients often found in bath salts, and Congress is debating whether to impose a permanent ban.