Bath Salts and Spice in Santee and San Diego County

It’s legal to possess, legal to use, but illegal to sell- the drug war is taking a non-incarceration stance on synthetic drugs known as bath salts and spice.

A recent assault in which a man in Florida reportedly gnawed on another man’s face while under the influence of bath salts brought renewed national interest to this new class of drugs which contain amphetamine-like chemicals.

But, the Santee Sheriff’s Department said that bath salts aren’t a huge problem in Santee. It was also noted at a recent COMPOC meeting that Santana High School has seen a serious decline in possession of the drug on campus.

AB 486, authored by Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, went into effect last Oct. 9, making it illegal in California to sell, dispense, distribute, furnish, administer or possess for sale synthetic stimulants known as bath salts.

In February, San Diego County‘s district attorney and sheriff sent letters to nearly 100 businesses, warning of criminal or civil penalties if they ignore the state law banning the sale of synthetic drugs, including bath salts.

Only one sales violation has been found in Santee since the letters went out and a local compliance check will be carried out in the near future, the Sheriff’s Department said.

If a person is found to be intoxicated by these sythetic drugs while in public, the person can be detained by authorities for 12 hours for their own safety, but not arrested- the same punishment given if someone if found to be drunk in public, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The state laws for bath salts include misdemeanor and civil punishments, according to the Sheriff’s Department penalties were kept less severe (not felonies) because of prison overcrowding and the recent burden put on local jails. As a result, a conviction for selling bath salts would likely result in a less severe punishment than marijuana sales.

The U.S. Military has also cracked down on synthetic drug use, if soldiers are found using bath salts they will be dishonorably discharged.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers received 6,702 nationwide calls about bath salts, last year, up from 303 in 2010.

“We want to be proactive to let San Diegans know how dangerous these drugs can be,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said.

“Bath salts’ in particular have been linked to an alarming number of calls to poison control centers and scary emergency room visits.”

The synthetic drugs are believed to contain Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MPDV, a chemical that is not approved for medical use in the United States. Users feel alert, euphoric, and more aware of their senses, and side effects include agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain, suicidal tendencies, seizures, psychosis, high blood pressure, kidney failure, flashbacks, extraordinary strength, and extreme panic attacks and suicide, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

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