Parents’ bath salts abuse sends more children to state custody

AUGUSTA, Maine — A spike in the number of children entering state custody because their parents are abusing bath salts has forced the state’s Office of Child and Family Services to add almost $1 million to its budget this year to accommodate 200 additional children living in foster care and in the homes of relatives.

The Department of Health and Human Services — which includes the child and family services office — expects to request an additional $4.2 million for that purpose in upcoming budget packages to be voted on by state lawmakers to cover those expenses through June 30, 2015.

The state’s Office of Child and Family Services has seen a net increase of 200 children in state custody since last November, and officials can trace the bulk of the net increase to situations in which parents have been abusing bath salts, Therese Cahill-Low, director of the Office of Child and Family Services, said Monday.

As a result, the state has transferred $1 million to the office this year from unspent funds so it can afford room and board payments to foster parents and relatives taking in children who have entered state custody, according to Cahill-Low and DHHS spokesman John Martins.

“We kind of got blindsided by bath salts back in November, December,” she said. “As a result of really a lot of bath salts usage in certain pockets of the state, we’ve had an increase in the number of kids in care by 200.”

At the end of last November, the state had 1,450 children in its custody. At the end of September, according to Cahill-Low, that number had risen to 1,657 children who were either living in foster care or with relatives after being removed from the care of their parents.

“We can pinpoint it specifically to substance abuse, particularly around bath salts,” she said.

Bath salts-related situations are particularly common in the Bangor and Rockland areas, Cahill-Low said.

It’s challenging for foster parents to start caring for children whose parents have engaged in any substance abuse, but bath salts present a unique challenge, she said.

“With other substances, there may be a little more predictability. Bath salts, there’s no standard,” she said. “Children are probably more scared and probably have been put in more precarious situations just because the parents don’t have any wherewithal when they’re on bath salts.”

Bath salts emerged on the streets of Bangor in early 2011 and, within months, bath salts abuse had spread throughout the state.

The drug, which is addictive, can be snorted, smoked, injected or swallowed. It has caused hallucinations, convulsions, psychotic episodes and thoughts of suicide in users.

Maine lawmakers voted to outlaw the drug in September 2011. President Barack Obama signed a federal ban on the primary chemical components of bath salts into law in July of this year.

BANK HONCHO BRIAN MULLIGAN Demands Investigation Into Leaked ‘Bath Salts’ Tape

A lawyer for Deutsche Bank honcho Brian Mulligan is demanding the LAPD launch a full-blown investigation into the leaked audio tape — in which Brian admits to using narcotic “bath salts” — claiming the “leak” was a cheap ploy to smear his good name.

TMZ obtained three letters from Mulligan’s new lawyer, Skip Miller — addressed to the L.A. City Attorney, the Glendale Chief of Police and the L.A. Chief of Police.

The letters state … the audio — released earlier this week — was sent to the LAPD for investigative purposes only (regarding Brian’s police brutality claims) and should NOT have been released to the media.

Brian’s lawyer is adamant, the tape has nothing to do with the alleged beating — and blood tests taken immediately after Mulligan was admitted to the hospital on the 15th came back clean.

As TMZ previously reported … Brian filed a $50 mil claim against the City of L.A., alleging two police officers beat the crap out of him on May 15 — resulting in 15 fractures to his nasal area, a broken scapula, and facial lacerations.

LAPD claims the cops took action ONLY after they perceived him to be a threat.

In the letters, Brian’s attorney states the tape was purposely leaked “out of context” to create a smear campaign against Brian and discredit his accusations against the boys in blue — all in order to sway the public into believing he “had it coming to him.”

Brian’s attorney is demanding the LAPD take action stat — and investigate how the tape got leaked from their department, and explain whether or not it was even legal.

FYI — The released audio tape was recorded May 13 — two days before Brian’s alleged beat down.

In the audio Brian appears to be acting paranoid … believes helicopters are following him … and then admits to a Glendale officer that he has previously used a hallucinogenic narcotic called “bath salts” over 20 times.

9:55AM PST: The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) — the organization that released the ‘bath salts’ audio — tells TMZ, Brian Mulligan’s claim is nothing more than a “fictitious tale of abuse at the hands of the LAPD.” They add, “Bath salts lead to delusions, and as in this case, bizarre lawsuits.”

Hurricane Sandy knocks out bath salts forum set for today

Oswego, NY — The community forum regarding bath salts and synthetic drugs scheduled for this Monday night at the Robinson Faust Theatre has been postponed due to the impending storm.

Plans are being made to reschedule this event in late November.

Also, all after-school activities in the Oswego City School District are canceled for Monday.

Headed to trial for bath salts sales

Two defendants accused of selling illegal bath salts at convenience stores in Hyde and Curwensville waived their right to preliminary hearings before Magisterial District Judge Jerome Nevling at yesterday’s session of Centralized Court held at the Clearfield County Jail.
Rupinder Kaur, 43, of Clearfield and Gurpreet Singh, 42, of Clearfield are each charged in two cases.
The first case they are charged with criminal conspiracy/manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance; intentional possession of a controlled or counterfeit substance by a person not registered.
In the second cases they are charged with criminal conspiracy/manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance; two counts of manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance; intentional possession of a controlled or counterfeit substance by a person not registered.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, the state police Troop C Vice Unit were informed that the Uni-Mart stores in Hyde and Curwensville were selling and distributing synthetic marijuana, also referred to as K2. The synthetic marijuana was reportedly being sold under the names of “Atomic Bomb,” “Rush” and “Radio Active.”
On Nov. 1, 2011, an undercover state trooper entered the Hyde Uni-Mart at 11:18 a.m. Two females were working behind the counter, one of which was Kaur. The trooper was able to purchase three grams of “Radio Active” from Kaur. It was in silver packages and the trooper paid $36 for it.
At 11:29 a.m., the undercover state trooper entered the Curwensville Uni-Mart and asked to purchase “Rush” from Singh, who was working behind the counter.
Singh said they were out of “Rush” but pointed to a package of “Atomic Bomb” and asked if he had ever tried it. The trooper said he had not and Singh replied it was “good stuff.”
The trooper purchased the package for $36 and left the store.
The packages were submitted to the state police Erie Regional Crime Lab for analysis. The lab determined the substance contained synthetic cannabinoids (marijuana.)
On Nov. 7, Magisterial District Justice Richard Ireland granted a search warrant and at 11:55 a.m. state troopers to searched the store and seized 249 marked packages of suspected synthetic marijuana, 45 smoking devices and two metal grinders.
Forty-three items that were tested were found to have synthetic marijuana with a total weight of 102 grams.
On March 5, state police interviewed Richard L. Von Gunden at the Hyde Uni-Mart. During the interview he told police he worked at the Uni-Mart for about a year. The synthetic marijuana was placed out on a shelf by owners Kaur and her husband, Singh.
He said they would leave an inventory sheet on the counter where employees were to record the amount of synthetic marijuana they sold every day.
He said employees never stocked the shelves with synthetic marijuana and never saw the owners ordering it.
He also said when the new law went into affect on Aug. 21, 2011, they pulled all the synthetic marijuana from the shelves and restocked the shelves with brand new synthetic marijuana that was packaged differently. He said the employees were told the new products were legal.
He said when they sold the synthetic marijuana it was rung up in the cash register as “miscellaneous items.”
Von Gunden said they would ask for ID when selling it to customers and said most were 18 years old to their early 20s. He said customers would usually ask for it as either “K2” or by its brand name such as “Atomic Rush.”
Kaur and Singh are out on $5,000 unsecured bail on each case ($10,000.)
In other cases, a Clearfield teen accused of stealing a car and setting it on fire waived his right to a preliminary hearing before Ireland.
Richard M. Oswalt, 19, is charged with theft by unlawful taking; receiving stolen property; arson, criminal mischief; drivers required to be licensed.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Sept. 5, Clearfield Borough police responded to a Dorey Street residence for a report of a stolen car, a Kia Spectra. The car, valued at $4,000, was owned by Charlotte Charles and her son Ryan Charles. They said the car was parked in front of their residence and was on a jack and it was seen accelerating rapidly, turned left on Woodland Road toward Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub.
On Sept. 9, Lawrence Township Police responded to a vehicle fire at the borough’s compost site on Twenty-first Street.
The vehicle was determined to be the stolen Kia. Two gasoline cans were found in close proximity to the vehicle.
On Sept. 21, while on patrol Clearfield Borough Police Officers Kem Parada and Sgt. Greg Neeper spotted a red van being driven by Jollene Rabenstein, who police knew did not have a valid driver’s license, and initiated a stop in the parking lot of Fox’s Pizza Den.
When Neeper approached the vehicle he said he noticed the driver switched positions with a female passenger. Neeper asked Rabenstein if she had a driver’s license and she replied she did not.
The van is registered to a Robert J. Gavlock of Frenchville who is the boyfriend of Rabenstein.
Permission was granted to search the van and a piece of a windshield with an inspection sticker was found in the pocket of the front passenger door. State Department of Transportation records showed that the inspection sticker was from the stolen Kia.
Police asked Rabenstein about the sticker and she said she didn’t know it was in there, but said Robert Gavlock or his nephew Michael Gavlock might have placed it there.
On Oct. 4, police interviewed Robert Gavlock; he said he was parked at the borough dumpsite on Twenty-first Street with his nephew Michael Gavlock when Oswalt drove up. He said Oswalt was doing donuts with the vehicle when it became stuck in an embankment. He said a hatchet was used to remove the inspection sticker from the windshield.
On Oct. 5, police interviewed Oswalt. Oswalt said he was in the East End area when he noticed a vehicle with its trunk open. As he approached the vehicle he saw that the keys were in the ignition. He said he closed the trunk, started the car and drove to the intersection where he turned on the lights. He then drove to Twenty-first Street and parked the vehicle in the woods.
On Sept. 9, Oswalt said he saw the Gavlocks at the borough dump. He said he drove up to the site but became stuck.
He then removed the inspection sticker because Gavlock wanted it. Oswalt said he had some gasoline tanks in the car because the car was low on gas and he was going to fill it up and run it through some mud. But he said the car became stuck so he dumped the gasoline on the car and set it on fire to watch it burn and to destroy any evidence. He showed police where he had parked the vehicle in the woods where police recovered the vehicle’s registration plate.
In a separate case, Oswalt is also charged with stowaways prohibited, disorderly conduct.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Sept. 13, Charlotte and Ryan Charles, who coincidentally are the same people from whom Oswalt stole the vehicle, reported they saw a boy without a shirt wearing red shorts jump on a train, ride it a short while and jump back off before riding away on a red mountain bicycle. The Charles’ said they did not know the boy.
Later that day, police spoke to a group of teenagers who were at the picnic tables outside of Sheetz, one of which was Oswalt, who was shirtless and wearing red shorts. A red mountain bike was lying nearby in the alley, but none of the kids claimed it was theirs and all denied they had ridden it there.
They also all denied trying to get on the train saying they were only reaching out and touching it.
Police took the bike back to the station.
Police spoke to another juvenile at Sheetz who was not with the group; he said he knew Oswalt and said Oswalt had ridden the bike to the store.
Oswalt waived his right to a preliminary hearing in this case as well.
Oswalt is incarcerated on $50,000 straight bail.

Ban on ‘Spice’ and ‘Bath Salts’ extended in Yavapai County pending trial

CAMP VERDE — Late Monday, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Michael Bluff extended the ban on the Yavapai County sale of “novelty powders” and other synthetics called “spice” and “bath salts” by known retailers.

In a 14-page ruling, Judge Bluff affirmed a permanent injunction against nine of the 12 retail shops named in the complaint filed by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. The judge further issued a preliminary injunction against the remaining three known retailers: Wes Lance Trading Company, Steve Ogden and the Island Store.

Retailers in Prescott that have been banned from selling the novelty powders are Prescott Quick Stop, Mike’s Mini Mart, and The Island Store. Shops in Cottonwood banned from the sale of these drugs are Hawaiian Honey Swimwear and Pipe Dreamz Smoke Shop. Shops in Prescott Valley that are banned are X-Hale Smoke Shop, Mario’s PV Quick Stop, the Hobby Glass, Smoke N’ Thingz, Mike’s Connection and Texaco on Highway 69. Wes Lance Trading Company in Camp Verde has also been banned.

“What is so important is that parents and their children, as well as all community members, understand how dangerous and life-threatening these synthetic drugs are,” said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. “I knew this stuff was horrible when we started the trial, yet I was still overwhelmed with the testimony recounting the violence and self-destruction, and how these drugs are effecting everyone across the county.”

This ruling comes after three days of Superior Court testimony in late August. Among his findings, Judge Bluff wrote that novelty powder drugs are synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic cathinones that have effects similar to marijuana and methamphetamine, but more intense, unpredictable, dangerous and addictive. The judge further found that the novelty powders are packaged to mimic the appearance and names of recreational illegal drugs, and despite the warnings on the packages that they are “not for human consumption,” they are sold solely for human consumption.

The street names include: Go Fast, K2, Spice, Sprinklezz, Incense, Potpourri, Herbal Sachets, Glass Cleaner, Felt Cleaner, Go Fast Carpet Cleaner, Exuberance Powder, Tickle Talc, Bath Salts, Smokin’ Dragon, Mr. Nice Guy, Fear and Loathing, Diablo, Amped, G6, Eight Ballz, White Lightening, Crazy Train, Hashish 6X, Token Monkey, Black Gold 20X, Legal Devil, Funky Green Stuff, and Bliss.

In issuing the injunctions, the judge found that evidence at the hearing showed that the novelty powders cause serious physical and mental harm to the users, including dangerous increases in metabolic rates resulting in dangerous hyperthermia (overheating), increased heart rate, stroke, cardiovascular collapse, seizures, and death.

The judge found that users often suffer from delusions and hallucinations, exhibiting signs of severe psychosis, paranoia and anxiety, and that users will often suffer long-term effects from the drugs such as psychosis, depression, insomnia, suicide ideation and self-mutilation.

The judge observed that users under the influence of synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones will often engage in aggressive acts of violence against medical and law enforcement personnel trying to assist them, and innocent bystanders; and that synthetic cannabinoids and cathinones may be even more addictive than marijuana or methamphetamine.

The judge found that the evidence from the hearing shows that novelty powders are having a serious and negative impact on emergency medical services in Yavapai County and that the emergency medical professionals of the community report a dramatic increase over the last eighteen months in patients needing emergency medical treatment.

Among his findings, the judge noted: the evidence shows that the patients are often physically injured due to acts of self-harm, and that they are violently combative; that as many as 20 patients a week are presenting at Yavapai County’s three emergency rooms for treatment due to ingestion; that patients under the influence of novelty powders are violently combative, “out of their minds,” and that violent attacks on paramedics, doctors and nurses are common with such patients; that it is frequently necessary for hospital personnel to physically restrain, sedate, and intubate patients in order to treat the patient and eliminate danger to hospital personnel; and that these patients represent a serious drain of hospital and community resources available for medical emergencies.

The judge found there is a strong likelihood Yavapai County will prevail on the merits, and ruled that the sale of novelty powders presents a likelihood of irreparable injury to the people of Yavapai County. The judge declared that public policy favors the ban.

A copy of the Preliminary and Permanent Injunctions, as well as all the pleadings and affidavits, can be found at the Yavapai County Attorney’s website at

The Yavapai County Attorney’s Office asks that community members with information about anyone selling synthetic drugs in Yavapai County contact the office at (928) 771-3344 and ask to speak with Maggie.

Bath Salt Drug WAR “Waist Of Money”

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

In 1914, Congress made heroin and cocaine illegal. That law didn’t stop the use of heroin or cocaine, and any teenager can show you where to buy heroin or coke at the local high school.

In 1920, Congress made liquor illegal. That law didn’t stop the use of liquor. Anybody in town could show you where the local speakeasy was if you wanted to buy a shot of booze.

In 1937, Congress made marijuana illegal. That law didn’t stop the use of marijuana, and any teenager can show you where to buy marijuana at the local high school.

In 2012, Arizona made “spice” and “bath salts” illegal. Of course, that didn’t stop the use of spice or bath salts and, again, ask your teenager if you want to know where to purchase these illegal drugs.

Sure, using drugs is stupid, but thinking the government can prevent people from using drugs that make them feel good is even stupider.

For the past 100 years, the drug war has been a dismal failure. It’s time to end the drug war and stop treating recreational use of drugs as a criminal problem. The insane drug war is just a huge waste of money that doesn’t work.

Read more:

Rudy Eugene’s Toxicology Report: Experts speculate on what caused ‘face-chewing’ attack

CBS/AP) MIAMI – Experts are still speculating about what may have caused Rudy Eugene’s face-chewing attack on Ronald Poppo in Miami last month. A toxicology report on Wednesday failed to find “bath salts” and other major street drugs in Eugene’s system.

Pictures: Fla. police identify “face-eating” naked man

The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner said in a news release that the toxicology detected marijuana but it didn’t find any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs. Eugene also tested negative for adulterants commonly mixed with street drugs.

An expert on toxicology testing said marijuana alone wasn’t likely to cause behavior as strange as Eugene’s.

“The problem today is that there is an almost an infinite number of chemical substances out there that can trigger unusual behavior,” said Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida.

There has been much speculation about what drugs, if any, would lead to the bizarre May 26 attack at a Miami causeway that left Poppo, 65, missing about 75 percent of his face. The tests ruled out the suggestion that 35-year-old Eugene may have been under the influence of bath salts, which mimic the effects of cocaine or methamphetamine and have been associated with bizarre crimes in recent months.

An outside forensic toxicology lab, which took a second look at the results, also confirmed the absence of bath salts, synthetic marijuana and LSD.

Goldberger said the medical examiner’s office in Miami is known for doing thorough work and he’s confident they and the independent lab covered as much ground as possible. But it’s nearly impossible for toxicology testing to keep pace with new formulations of synthetic drugs.

“There are many of these synthetic drugs that we currently don’t have the methodology to test on, and that is not the fault of the toxicology lab. The challenge today for the toxicology lab is to stay on top of these new chemicals and develop methodologies for them but it’s very difficult and very expensive.” Goldberger said. “There is no one test or combination of tests that can detect every possible substance out there.”

An addiction expert said she wouldn’t rule out marijuana causing the agitation.

“It could have been the strain of marijuana that increases the dopamine in the brain, such as sativa,” said Dr. Patricia Junquera, assistant professor at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

There are two strains of marijuana called sativa and indica. The sativa increases dopamine and gives you energy while decreasing pain threshold. Indica is a “sleepy high,” she explained.

“People don’t really know what the amount of either is in each little packet of marijuana,” she explained. “And we can’t differentiate between the two in the blood, much less in a dead person.”

She also suggested that if Eugene had a mental disorder, “the marijuana could have increased even further the dopamine levels and aggravated the situation. So that can’t be ruled out.”

Eugene’s friends and family have said he was religious, not violent and that he didn’t drink or do drugs harder than marijuana, so they are baffled as to what caused Eugene’s brutal assault against the homeless victim.

“There’s no answer for it, not really,” said Marckenson Charles, Eugene’s younger brother. “Anybody who knew him knows this wasn’t the person we knew him to be. Whatever triggered him, there is no answer for this.”

Charles said the family does not plan to pursue any legal action against the police for shooting Eugene on the day of the face-chewing attack. Surveillance video from a nearby building shows Eugene stripping Poppo and pummeling him. The police officer who shot Eugene to death reportedly said Eugene growled at the officer when he told him to stop.

“They used the force they felt was necessary even if we don’t agree with that,” Charles said.

He said Eugene has been buried.

Poppo has undergone several surgeries and remains hospitalized. His left eye was removed, but doctors said earlier this month they were trying to find a way to restore vision in his right eye. He will need more surgeries before he can explore the options for reconstructing his face, doctors have said.

Bath salts bill in limbo

ATTLEBORO – Democratic challenger Paul Heroux is questioning the work ethic and competence of state Rep. George Ross as a result of confusion over legislation Ross was pushing to get the sale of bath salts banned as a dangerous substance.
Ross, R-Attleboro, responded by saying Heroux is showing his inexperience and lack of knowledge of the legislative process.
The freshman lawmaker said he went to great lengths to get his amendment approved because of a concern for public safety.
It has been unclear for several days after the formal legislative session ended last week whether a bill containing Ross’s provision had passed during a rush to finish business before a midnight deadline last Wednesday.
Adding to the confusion was that the bath salts ban had been considered as a stand-alone bill and has an amendment to two different bills – one was a House bill and the other was a Senate bill.
The Senate added it to a prescription drug regulation bill.
Ross said last week he was unsure if the bill with the amendment passed.
Sunday he said it was approved.
But, Monday Ross explained that he had been given faulty information from the Senate. He said he now knows that even though the prescription drug bill containing the bath salt amendment has passed the House, final Senate action is still required.
Ross and House Minority Leader Brad Jones said they understand the Senate will concur with the bill during an informal session Thursday.
But, Heroux struck Monday with a press release saying “Being a good state rep. requires work ethic and competence.”
He said Ross should have more closely monitored his amendment so he would have known whether it passed or not.
Heroux said if he was the state representative, he would not have left the Statehouse without knowing the outcome.
“Attleboro residents depend on their state reps to understand what they are voting on, as the impact of votes could have a great impact on education, public safety or other important impacts to our community. If elected, I will make sure I understand what I’m voting on, and how the votes come out on items that could impact our community,” Heroux said.
Heroux said Ross could have checked with the House clerk to find out if his amendment was approved.
But, Ross and Jones challenged the accuracy of Heroux’s claims.
Jones said there was never a question about Ross’s amendment. He said it was approved unanimously and everyone knew it. The House also passed the larger prescription drug bill. The only question, he said, was whether the Senate had acted.
Ross said he has been working hard for Attleboro and Heroux is off base.
“If this is the level of the campaign, we’re all in trouble,” he said.
The bath salts in question are not the type of product people put into their bath tubs.
They are a substance that when smoked acts like narcotics and can lead to serious physical and mental problems.
Heroux is running in a Democratic primary against Stephen Kane with the winner going against Ross in November. Kane could not be reached for comment.

The battle against bath salts

People are inventing so many new, legal ways to get high that lawmakers can’t keep up.

So law enforcers are taking new steps to target these synthetic drugs.

Those steps include coordinated raids. The latest was Wednesday, when federal agents arrested more than 90 people in a nationwide sweep of synthetic drug producers, distributors and retailers — including a number in Pennsylvania.

Across the country, agents seized more than five million packets of finished designer synthetic drugs, including substances marketed as bath salts, spice, incense, K-2 and plant food, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

They also recovered more than $36 million in cash in the sweep, code named Operation Log Jam.

“We struck a huge blow to the synthetic drug industry,” said James Chaparro, the acting director of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations. “The criminal organizations behind the importation, distribution and selling of these synthetic drugs have scant regard for human life in their reckless pursuit of illicit profits.”

In Pennsylvania, agents searched residences, convenience stores, gas stations, smoke shops and other similar businesses in several counties, including Montgomery and Philadelphia.

They seized more than 300,000 individual doses of synthetic marijuana and illegal bath salts, with an estimated street value of $1.25 million. They also recovered more than 50,000 pieces of drug paraphernalia related to the smoking or consumption of synthetic drugs and about $250,000 in cash and assets, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Over the past two years, the U.S. has seen a surge in the use of synthetic drugs made of legal chemicals that mimic the dangerous effects of cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants.

The drugs are often sold at small, independent stores in misleading packaging that suggests common household items. But the substances inside are powerful, mind-altering drugs that have been linked to bizarre and violent behavior across the country.

Law enforcement officials refer to the drugs collectively as “bath salts,” though they have nothing in common with the fragrant toiletries used to moisturize skin.

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law earlier this month that bans the sale, production and possession of more than two dozen of the most common bath salt drugs. But health professionals say that there are so many varieties of the drugs that U.S. lawmakers are always playing catch up.

“The moment you start to regulate one of them, they’ll come out with a variant that sometimes is even more potent,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Emergencies related to the drugs have surged: The American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 6,100 calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 — up from just 304 the year before — and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.

In Montgomery County, coroner Dr. Walter Hoffman said four deaths have been attributed to the use of bath salt drugs — including a 28-year-old man and 15-year-old girl from Pottstown who were killed in a motor vehicle accident. All four people who died from the drugs were under 30 years old, he said. Bucks County Coroner Dr. Joseph Campbell said that no deaths in Bucks County have been directly attributed to bath salt use.

A Quakertown father has attributed his son’s suicide to mental health problems following bath salt use. And authorities said an Upper Moreland teen was severely injured when he jumped from the top level of the Willow Grove Park mall parking garage after smoking an unidentified synthetic drug.

Many states have banned some of the most common bath salt drugs. For instance, in June 2011, Pennsylvania legislators banned the possession, use and sale of synthetic “designer” drugs.

But while U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, that’s only true if federal prosecutors can show they’re intended for human consumption. People who make these drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on packets.

Despite the bans, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren’t covered by state or federal laws. In fact, Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, says there are so many different drugs out there that it’s almost impossible to know what people have ingested, or how long the effects will last.

“Cocaine is cocaine and meth is meth. We know what these things do,” he said. “But with these new drugs, every time the chemist alters the chemical structure, all bets are off.”

These drugs include synthetic marijuana substitutes, also known as “herbal incense.”

At one Doylestown store, the packages were marked “not for human consumption.” When the owner was asked if she knew people smoked the product, she said she doesn’t know anything about what customers do with it.

A man leaving the store with a vial of the synthetic “incense” in his hand said he smokes it because he’s on probation for a DUI charge.

“Before (my DUI), I would not have tried any of this stuff,” said the man, who asked that he not be identified. “Even switching over to this stuff now that I can’t smoke weed is demeaning to me.”

The most common bath salt drugs, like MDPV and mephedrone, were first developed in pharmaceutical research laboratories, though they were never approved for medical use. During the last decade, they became popular as party drugs in Europe. As law enforcement began cracking down on the problem there, the drugs spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

The most dangerous synthetic drugs are stimulants that affect levels of both dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals that affect mood and perception. Users, who typically smoke or snort the powder-based drugs, may experience a surge in energy, fever and delusions of invincibility.

Hospital emergency rooms, doctors and law enforcement agencies across the country have struggled to control bath salt drug users who often are feverish and paranoid. Hospitals in Bucks and Montgomery counties said they’ve had cases of suspected bath salts abuse, but they aren’t tracked separately from other drug overdoses.