Study Shows Exactly Why ‘Bath Salts’ Are So Dangerous



Designer street drugs called bath salts are highly addictive and cause hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure, according to an illuminating study on two substances published earlier this week.

Bath salts represent an increasingly problematic segment of the nation’s battle with substance use and dependence. The number of calls to the American Association of Poison Control Centers from people sickened by bath salts skyrocketed from 303 in 2010 to 6,072 last year. The new study, performed on animals, provides a scientific look at how the chemicals impact the brain. The research is important for public health and substance-abuse professionals trying to prevent more people from experimenting with the drugs and helping those who become addicted.

“The fundamental problem with the whole bath salts phenomenon is we don’t know anything about the pharmacological effects and possible toxic effects of these substances,” Dr. Michael Baumann, the lead author of the study and a staff scientist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told TakePart. “Where do they interact in the brain and in the periphery? From a public health perspective, we really need to know what those risks might be.”

Bath salts represent a class of designer drugs that began showing up on U.S. streets about three years ago. Sold as a synthetic powder, the drugs are available online and in drug paraphernalia stores. Besides the term bath salts, the drugs are known by names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Red Dove,” “Blue Silk,” “Zoom,” “Bloom,” “Cloud Nine,” “Ocean Snow,” “Lunar Wave,” “Vanilla Sky,” “White Lightning,” “Scarface,” and “Hurricane Charlie,” according to NIDA. The drugs are inhaled, swallowed, injected, or snorted.

Chemically, bath salts resemble naturally occurring substances called cathinones, which have a chemical structure similar to amphetamines, although the effects of the synthetic substances on the brain is far different from what nature intended with cathinones.

In July, President Obama signed a law banning known versions of the drugs, including those that contain several popular active ingredients known as methylone, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV. But street chemists continue to tweak the concoctions to produce new versions that escape Drug Enforcement Agency classification.

“We have a whole new wave of second-generation or replacement cathinones,” Baumann says. “MDPV, mephedrone and methylone are being replaced. [Manufacturers] change the structure of the molecules ever so slightly. So this is a formidable problem.”

The new study, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, explains why users should fear the effects of bath salts. Like the drug MDMA—or Ecstasy—the active compounds in bath salts examined in the study attach to chemical transporters on the surface of some neurons. This leads to increases in the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and prolongs the effects of dopamine and norepinephrine in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens.

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Drugs Stay Legal After ‘Bath Salts’ Ban


  • bath salts.jpg
    AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Chris Knight

It’s the same old story.  People making up new ways to get high while lawmakers attempt to catch up to the ever-changing, ever-growing drug culture.

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 like bath salts, incense and plant food. 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 lawmakers cannot keep pace with bath salt producers, who constantly adjust their chemical formulations to come up with new synthetic drugs that aren’t covered by new laws. Experts who have studied the problem estimate there are more than 100 different bath salt chemicals in circulation.

“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.

There are no back alleys or crack houses in America’s latest drug epidemic. The problem involves potent substances that amateur chemists make, package and sell in stores under brands like “Ivory Wave,” ”Vanilla Sky” and “Bliss” for as little as $15. 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.

The problem for lawmakers is that it’s difficult to crack down on the drugs. U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, but only if federal prosecutors can show that they are intended for human use. People who make bath salts and similar drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on virtually every packet.

Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency, said the intended use for bath salts is clear.

“Everyone knows these are drugs to get high, including the sellers,” she said.

Many states have banned some of the most common bath salts, which are typically sold by small businesses like convenience stores, tobacco shops and adult book stores. For instance, West Virginia legislators banned the bath salt drug MDPV last year, making it a misdemeanor to sell, buy or possess the synthetic drug. Conviction means up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Stephanie Mitchell, assistant manager of The Den, a tobacco and paraphernalia shop in Morgantown, W.Va., said the store hasn’t sold bath salts in the six months that she’s worked there. But strung-out users still come in and ask for them.

“They’re pretty … cracked out, I guess would be a good word,” said Mitchell, 21, a student at West Virginia University. “They’re just kind of not all there. They’re kind of sketchy people.”

Mitchell says she wouldn’t sell bath salts even if she had them, “because it’s horrible, and I could get in trouble for it.”

Despite the bans, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren’t covered by local 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.”

The Spread

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 at European raves and dance clubs. As law enforcement began cracking down on the problem there, the drugs spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

Poison control centers in the U.S. began tracking use of the drugs in 2010. The majority of the early reports of drug use were clustered in Southern states like Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. But the problem soon spread across the country.

The financial lure for small-time drugmakers is enticing. The drugs can be cheaply imported from China or India, and then easily packaged under local brands. For example, bath salts sold in Louisiana carry regional names like Hurricane Charlie or Bayou.

The widespread availability of the drugs in stores is equally alluring for drug users: they can get a cheap high similar to that of illegal drugs by walking to a corner store.

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.

Use of these drugs has spread across the country with reports stretching from Maine to California. There are no official federal estimates on deaths connected with the drugs, many of which do not show up on typical drug tests. But police reports have implicated the drugs in several cases.

Packets of “Lady Bubbles” bath salts, for instance, were found on Sgt. David Franklyn Stewart last April after the solider shot and killed his wife and himself during a car chase with law enforcement near Olympia, Wash.

The chase began when Stewart sped past a police patrol car at 6 a.m. The police trooper pursued for 10 miles and reported seeing the driver raise a hand to his head, then heard a shot and saw the driver slump over. The next day police found the couple’s 5-year-old son dead in their home; he had been suffocated with a plastic bag at least 24 hours earlier.

Another death involving bath salts played out in Covington, La. Police reported that Dickie Sanders, 21, shot himself in the head Nov. 11, 2010 while his parents were asleep.

His father, Dr. Richard Sanders, said his son had snorted “Cloud 9” bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium, at one point attempting to cut his own throat. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

What’s Ahead

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 that they are being attacked. Doctors say users often turn up naked because bath salts raise their body temperature so much that they strip off their clothing.

Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Tennessee has treated 160 people suspected of taking bath salts since 2010. Dr. Sullivan Smith, who works there, said people on the drugs become combative, and it can take four or five health professionals to subdue them. In some cases, he said, doctors have to use prescription sedatives that are typically reserved for surgery.

Smith recalls one man who had been running for more than 24 hours because he believed the devil was chasing him with an ax. By the time police brought him to the hospital, he was dehydrated and covered in blood from running through thorny underbrush.

“We’re seeing extreme agitation, hallucinations that are very vivid, paranoia and some really violent behavior, so it’s a real crisis for us,” Smith said. “We sedate the living daylights out of them. And we’re talking doses on the order of 10 or 20 times what you would give for a painful procedure.”

To control the spread of the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a temporary ban in October on three of the most common drugs — mephedrone, methylone and MDPV. That ban became permanent under the bill signed by Obama on July 10.

Under the law, anyone convicted of selling, making or possessing 28 synthetic drugs, including bath salts, will face penalties similar to those for dealing traditional drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Those on the front lines say the legislation is a good start. But they don’t expect new laws to dramatically curb use of bath salts in the near term.

“The problem is these drugs are changing and I’m sure they’re going to find some that are a little bit different chemically so they don’t fall under the law,” said Dr. Smith, the Tennessee doctor. “Is it adequate to name five or 10 or even 20? The answer is no, they’re changing too fast.”

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/health/2012/07/26/drugs-stay-legal-after-bath-salts-ban/#ixzz22DSc4GkX

‘Bath Salts’ A Deadly New Drug


Bath Salts, sold in small packets with names like “Blue Wave,” “Cloud Nine,” and “White Lady,” are the newest — and scariest — designer drug. (Image of legitimate bath salts via Wikipedia)

Can the headlines really have it right?  Is there really a new drug that makes people so violent they bite each others’ faces off? I wish this was a News of the Worldheadline that we could all dismiss, along with the stories of alien babies and women giving birth at 95. But in this case, the headlines do have it right — sort of.

Yes, unfortunately, there’s a new drug making its way into communities across the country and it’s really, really scary.

How scary? Well, in the incident described in the current headlines, a 31-year-old man, Rudy Eugene of Miami, attacked a 65-year-old homeless man, stripped off all his clothes, dived on top of him, and started chewing off his face. Eugene had a history of run-ins with the police, and had been accused of domestic violence, but his history hadn’t suggested a risk of public violence. The explanation — if there is one — seems to be that bath salts can trigger a full-blown psychotic episode with extreme delusions.

Who knows what type of hallucination would lead someone to eat another person’s face, but you can imagine it would have to be a pretty extreme and vivid one. Reports from onlookers characterized Eugene as a “zombie,” behaving as if he were under the control of some evil spectre.

So what are “Bath Salts” – and how did the drug get this ridiculously misleading name?

Like Ecstasy and methamphetamine, the drug known as “bath salts” is a designer drug, which means it’s synthetic, concocted in a lab. (On the street, it’s also sometimes called “bath powder,” “herbal incense,” or “plant food.”) What makes the term “bath salts” more confusing, though, is that name is used for a surprisingly large number of different chemical combinations.

To understand what the drug does, think of “bath salts” as a cross between meth and acid. Well, sort of. Like cocaine, meth, and speed, bath salts work by stimulating the central nervous system, kicking it into overdrive, if you will. But the drug also apparently causes paranoid delusions and/or hallucinations. Experts are saying it’s psychoactive, rather than hallucinogenic like acid, but the end result appears to be similar: delusional beliefs acted upon in violent ways.

The key ingredients that go into bath salts are the synthetic compounds MDPV (3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone), mephedrone, pyrovalerone, and methylone. But there are many other ingredients used in addition to these, or in place of them. For example, many of the “bath salts” seized have been found to contain extremely high levels of caffeine.

MDPV and mephedrone, the most common bath salts, originated as synthetic versions of a natural ingredient found in Khat (Catha edulis), a hallucinogenic plant found in eastern Africa. Cathinone, the active ingredient in khat, is a Schedule 1 controlled substance, meaning illegal. However,  MDPV and mephedrone were legal until Fall 2011 when the FDA banned them, but underground chemists keep skirting the law by slightly altering the chemical compounds to come up with new versions that are technically legal. The FDA now refers to bath salts as a “designer drug of the phenethylamine class.” Slang names for mephedrone include “meph,” “drone”, and MCAT.

Yikes! Where did bath salts come from?

Currently, the chemicals we call “bath salts” are most frequently manufactured and imported from China and Europe, but drug officials say it’s only a matter of time before American drug-cookers begin making them. The history of bath salts is both fascinating and frightening. The drug was actually first formulated in France in the 1920s, but disappeared until it was rediscovered from the obscurity of academia by an underground chemist. He published the recipe on a website known as called the Hive, which was shut down in 2004 for sharing waaayyyy too much info about illegal substances. But the word was out, and the drug became extremely popular all over Europe.

It might be interesting to those in the pharmaceutical and chemical fields to note that bath salts were legal in Israel starting around 2004, sold under the name hagigat. Once declared illegal, the cathinone was modified and another Israeli company, Neorganics, sold the drug as pills and liquids under several names, including Neodoves, until the Israeli government specifically made mephedrone illegal in 2008.

In the UK, various drugs in the bath salts category have become a serious problem, passed out like candy at music festivals and easily available at head shops and on the street. They’re now listed just behind marijuana, Ecstasy, and cocaine as the fourth most popular street drug.

Bath salts are cheap, innocent looking, easy to obtain, and many people think they’re legal, or at least know they’re unlikely to be caught and prosecuted for using them. Bath salts come in little packets with soothing names like “Blue Silk”, “Bliss,” “Vanilla Sky,” and “Ivory Wave,” and cost just $25-60 a packet. (Actually, according to one website, some have much scarier sounding names like “Crazy Train,” “White Slut,” and”Eight Ballz”.)

Bath salts can be smoked, snorted,  or injected. The initial symptoms are positive, including relaxation, euphoria, and a sense of warmth and wellbeing similar to Ecstasy. But pretty quickly a darker side of the drug kicks in.

The symptoms of being dangerously high on bath salts include (but aren’t limited to):

  • extreme paranoia

    The FDA has banned the active ingredients in “Bath Salts” but drug designers keep a step ahead.

  • elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse
  • extremely high body temperature
  • sleep deprivation
  • vivid hallucinations
  • hostility or aggression
  • strange eye movements
  • extreme sweating
  • panic attacks
  • suicidal thoughts

Oddly, given the list of symptoms above, another reported side effect of bath salts is “an intense desire to use the drug again.” In other words, it’s highly addictive. Overdoses of bath salts can quickly turn into emergencies because of the lack of knowledge about the drug. Because “bath salts” is a collective term for a bunch of different ingredients, there’s no test to determine if someone took the drug. The only way to know for sure is if the user admits that’s what they took.

Bath Salts and Crime

Bath salts are absurdly easy to get hold of. They’re sold in “head shops” all over the country and even behind the counters in many convenience stores. Reports of violence associated with “bath salts” have been confused by the use of different names for the drug compounds. But those who’ve taken them report feeling that they experienced “pure evil.” Here are just a few of the episodes reported around the country:

  • California: Two 15-year-old boys fell violently ill and developed small holes in their lungs after consuming mephedrone, which they thought was MDMA. The drug was sold to them by a student at a nearby college.
  • Colorado: A drug called Alpha-PVP, a type of bath salt, led to a young man’s death by strangulation when friends tried to restrain him during a violent fit.
  • Washington: Investigators believe that a double murder-suicide in which a man killed his wife and five-year-old son, then shot himself.
  • Louisiana: A 21-year-old Louisiana man slit his throat in front of his family after he snorted bath salts, because he believed police were after him.
  • Pennsylvania: Police arrested a couple high on bath salts who had nearly cut their 5-year-old daughter with a knife, which they were using to stab the “90 people” they believed were “living in the walls” of their apartment.
  • Kentucky: A prison guard off duty reportedly high on bath salts was cited for 10 different acts of violence in two different towns, and ultimately had to be tasered.
  • West Virginia: A man high on bath salts was found wandering the woods in lingerie after he allegedly stabbed a goat.
  • Indiana: A man committed suicide after telling his family for weeks that the FBI were following him and watching him eat.
  • Ohio: A young man was fatally shot after he held a knife to his girlfriend’s neck.
  • California: Two recent suicides have been attributed to bath salts.
  • Police around the country say they’re seeing a spike in domestic violence and assault cases connected with bath salts.

Is Bath Salts an Epidemic?

No, nowhere close. The real drug epidemic is oxycodone, which is now the second highest cause of accidental death in the U.S., behind car accidents.

But what’s scary about bath salts is how the drug seems to have appeared out of nowhere, and how fast it’s taking hold. In the past year, the number of calls to poison control centers about bath salts increased more than 20 times, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, from 304 reports in 2010 to 6,138 in 2011. According to the FDA, no reports of the drug surfaced until 2009, during which the FDA reported two cases. By the following year there were more than 300 cases, and by last year the number had tripled to over 900 cases.

That’s a tiny number, to be sure. But those most often using the drugs are kids and teens, whose brains and central nervous systems are still developing. In fact, experts say the drugs are marketed directly to kids, with cartoon characters on the colorful packages.

So we have a drug that’s easily available, inexpensive, innocent sounding, and profoundly addictive. Doesn’t that sound to you like we’re going to have a serious new drug problem on our hands in a few years?

Many drugs remain legal after ‘bath salts’ ban


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

 

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 like bath salts, incense and plant food. 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 different varieties of the drugs that U.S. lawmakers are merely 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.

 

There are no back alleys or crack houses in America’s latest drug epidemic.

 

The problem involves potent substances that amateur chemists make, package and sell in stores under brands like “Ivory Wave,” “Vanilla Sky” and “Bliss” for as little as $15. 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.

 

The problem for lawmakers is that it’s difficult to crack down on the drugs. U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, but only if federal prosecutors can show that they are intended for human use. People who make bath salts and similar drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on virtually every packet.

 

Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Agency, said the intended use for bath salts is clear.

 

“Everyone knows these are drugs to get high, including the sellers,” she said.

 

Many states have banned some of the most common bath salts, which are typically sold by small businesses like convenience stores, tobacco shops and adult book stores. For instance, West Virginia legislators banned the bath salt drug MDPV last year, making it a misdemeanor to sell, buy or possess the synthetic drug. Conviction means up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

 

Stephanie Mitchell, assistant manager of The Den, a tobacco and paraphernalia shop in Morgantown, W.Va., said the store hasn’t sold bath salts in the six months that she’s worked there. But strung-out users still come in and ask for them.

 

“They’re pretty … cracked out, I guess would be a good word,” said Mitchell, 21, a student at West Virginia University. “They’re just kind of not all there. They’re kind of sketchy people.”

 

Mitchell says she wouldn’t sell bath salts even if she had them, “because it’s horrible, and I could get in trouble for it.”

 

Despite the bans, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren’t covered by local 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.”

 

 

 

The spread

 

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 at European raves and dance clubs. As law enforcement began cracking down on the problem there, the drugs spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Poison control centers in the U.S. began tracking use of the drugs in 2010. The majority of the early reports of drug use were clustered in southern states like Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky. But the problem soon spread across the country.

 

The financial lure for small-time drugmakers is enticing. The drugs can be cheaply imported from China or India, and then easily packaged under local brands. For example, bath salts sold in Louisiana carry regional names like “Hurricane Charlie” or “Bayou.”

 

The widespread availability of the drugs in stores is equally alluring for drug users: they can get a cheap high similar to that of illegal drugs by walking to a corner store.

 

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.

 

Use of these drugs has spread across the country with reports stretching from Maine to California. There are no official federal estimates on deaths connected with the drugs, many of which do not show up on typical drug tests. But police reports have implicated the drugs in several cases.

 

Packets of “Lady Bubbles” bath salts, for instance, were found on Sgt. David Franklyn Stewart last April after the solider shot and killed his wife and himself during a car chase with law enforcement near Olympia, Wash.

 

The chase began when Stewart sped past a police patrol car at 6 a.m. The police trooper pursued for 10 miles and reported seeing the driver raise a hand to his head, then heard a shot and saw the driver slump over. The next day police found the couple’s 5-year-old son dead in their home; he had been suffocated with a plastic bag at least 24 hours earlier.

 

Another death involving bath salts played out in Covington, La. Police reported that Dickie Sanders, 21, shot himself in the head Nov. 11, 2010 while his parents were asleep.

 

His father, Dr. Richard Sanders, said his son had snorted “Cloud 9” bath salts and endured three days of intermittent delirium, at one point attempting to cut his own throat. As he continued to have visions, his physician father tried to calm him. But the elder Sanders said that as he slept, his son went into another room and shot himself.

 

 

 

What’s ahead

 

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 that they are being attacked. Doctors say users often turn up naked because bath salts raise their body temperature so much that they strip off their clothing.

 

Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Tennessee has treated 160 people suspected of taking bath salts since 2010. Dr. Sullivan Smith, who works there, said people on the drugs become combative, and it can take four or five health professionals to subdue them.

 

In some cases, he said, doctors have to use prescription sedatives that are typically reserved for surgery.

 

Smith recalls one man who had been running for more than 24 hours because he believed the devil was chasing him with an ax. By the time police brought him to the hospital, he was dehydrated and covered in blood from running through thorny underbrush.

 

“We’re seeing extreme agitation, hallucinations that are very vivid, paranoia and some really violent behavior, so it’s a real crisis for us,” Smith said.

 

“We sedate the living daylights out of them.

 

“And we’re talking doses on the order of 10 or 20 times what you would give for a painful procedure,” Smith said.

 

To control the spread of the problem, the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a temporary ban in October on three of the most common drugs — mephedrone, methylone and MDPV. That ban became permanent under the bill signed by Obama on July 10.

Frankfort bans compounds found in synthetic drugs


The village board of trustees Thursday night unanimously passed legislation banning many of the ingredients in bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
Specifically, the local law banned a number of compounds and derivatives of compounds that make up the drugs.
Anyone caught in possession of or using synthetic marijuana or bath salts with these ingredients within the village limits could be subject to a fine and time in jail.
The law took effect immediately.
Frankfort Police Chief Ronald Petrie said the substances and compounds – many of which have not yet been classified as illegal under federal and state law – pose a risk to the life, health and safety of users and the public at large.
“Due to the unpredictable nature of people under the influence of bath salts, there is a safety concern for residents and officers,” he said.
With a surge in the number of people using bath salts, a methamphetamine-like stimulant that can cause intense hallucinations, paranoia and violet behavior, on the rise nationally and locally, Petrie said the ban was necessary.
“This is a growing epidemic and this law gives the village something that can be enforced,” he said.
Similar to local laws passed in the village of Herkimer and the city of Utica, and to the local law being considered in the village of Dolgeville, the ordinance is broadly worded to include any and all synthetic drugs, even those that do not exist yet. Petrie said this was done to make sure the drugs can not change faster than the law. He also said the village of Frankfort’s local law is in addition to the state and national ban.
“This ban gives the village the ability to prosecute offenders,” he said. “It’s a law that minimizes the threat to persons residing in and visiting the village.”
Mayor Frank Moracco called on all municipalities in Herkimer County to adopt a law banning the compounds found in synthetic marijuana and bath salts of their own.
“This is something everyone needs to be the same page on,” said Moracco. “This is something that is plaguing the whole area, and it is something that residents and first responders are having an issue with. It’s an issue not only in the village of Frankfort, but throughout Herkimer County and Central New York, and it’s reach is far greater than that.”
The village of Frankfort’s local law combined language found in federal, state and other local laws to ensure the best punishment for offenders.
Individuals found selling or possessing bath salts or any derivative of the drug in the village could face up to $250 in fines and 30 days in jail.

Drugs on demand: Methylone proves easy to get


PORTSMOUTH

Step one to becoming an importer of designer street drugs: Email a laboratory in China.

Step two: Wire a few thousand dollars to a friendly, English-speaking customer service representative.

Step three: Wait for the postal carrier.

According to federal court documents, that is how two Portsmouth men were able to bring almost 100 pounds of an Ecstasy-like stimulant called methylone to Virginia.

No clandestine airfields. No henchmen with machine guns. No crooked customs agents.

“It’s probably easier than buying a case of wine online,” said Richard Yarow, an attorney for a man who pleaded guilty last month to helping one of the importers wire money to China. “When you buy wine you at least have to show ID” when it is delivered.

Methylone, also known as lone, is relatively new to the U.S. drug scene – so much so that Yarow and other defense attorneys involved in these cases found themselves having to do research just to figure out what their clients were charged with dealing.

A white crystalline powder that is usually snorted, swallowed or mixed into drinks, methylone gained notoriety in the United States last year as a club drug popular at raves and electronic music shows, according to court documents and federal agents.

It also is a key ingredient in a particularly dangerous drug cocktail known as “bath salts” or “plant food” that can lead users to mutilate themselves or commit suicide, experts said.

The drug’s numerous aliases are ploys to avoid state and federal regulations, federal agents said. They are not actually bath salts to be used in a tub.

On the street, methylone costs about $30 a gram or $350 an ounce. Importers sell it for $2,600 to $4,000 a pound, court documents said.

Until late last year, methylone and other “bath salt” ingredients were generally legal in the United States, with packages of bath salts readily available online and in some gas stations and head shops. Some individual states had banned the drugs, but the federal government did not take immediate action.

“It’s come on so quickly we have kind of been taken aback,” said Shawn Ellerman, a spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “It exploded in 2011.”

In an emergency decision last October, the DEA temporarily classified methylone and two other bath salts ingredients as Schedule I controlled substances – placing them in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and marijuana.

In the past six months, federal agents have broken up two methylone importation rings in Portsmouth. Both rings appeared to be selling the drug as a substitute for ecstasy, not as an ingredient in bath salts.

Michael Casey Brown, 22, and two associates pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to import a controlled substance. With his friends taking delivery of the packages and wiring the money for him, Brown imported more than 32 pounds of methylone from China, court documents said. He faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 26 in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.

According to court documents, Brown and his two associates – Archie Lee McClennan, 65, and his 18-year-old grandson, Alex McElhaney – gave detailed confessions when confronted in February by federal agents.

Brown said a friend gave him an email address early last year for a lab in China. He placed his first order in May or June 2011, paying $300 to $400 for about a quarter pound of methylone.

Over the next few months, he made larger and larger orders until he was buying more than six pounds at a time.

To avoid detection, Brown had the packages sent to McClennan’s home after the first order. He also had McElhaney wire the money for him, court documents said.

McClennan told agents the packages came to his house in heavy-duty plastic bags labeled “Tungsten.”

Agents found three handguns in McClennan’s home: two revolvers and a .22 caliber Derringer.

The guns resulted in additional weapons convictions for him and McElhaney.

Both Brown and the other, unnamed importer started selling methylone before it was banned by the federal government, court documents said.

According to a statement of facts submitted with his guilty plea, Brown expected the crackdown.

“It’s gonna be scheduled soon, so I’m going to double it (the price),” Brown told McClennan, the documents said.

As part of a separate investigation, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations directorate got another methylone importer last month to give up some of his buyers.

David Lee Jones, 22, and his girlfriend, December Isabelle Justice, 23, were arrested earlier this month and charged with conspiracy to possess methylone and ecstasy with intent to distribute.

Their supplier, who is not named in court documents, has not been charged. According to documents filed in Jones cases, the supplier told agents he placed 10 or 11 orders with a lab in China – ordering about 6.5 pounds at a time.

Methylone is almost identical on a chemical level to ecstasy, experts said. Both drugs release dopamine and serotonin into a person’s central nervous system, producing a sense of euphoria and diminished anxiety.

The two drugs are so similar, Jones’ supplier actually sold the methylone as a powder form of ecstasy known as “Molly,” court documents said.

Louis De Felice, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine, said methylone is “as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than ecstasy.” He said there needs to be more research into exactly how the drug affects the brain, but he’s seen nothing to indicate it isn’t harmful.

Bath salts, he said, are even more scary. He said the drug causes the brain to release more dopamine, while at the same time preventing it from leaving the brain.

Comparing the brain to a sink, De Felice said that is a recipe for disaster.

“Not only do you turn on the faucet, but you close off the drain,” he said.

De Felice said bath salts could lead to early onset Parkinson’s disease and accelerated memory loss. He believes the drug kills neurons, physically changing how the brain works.

“It can take a young brain and make it much older,” he said.

Federal policy makers are aware of how easy it is to import some synthetic drugs and are working to make it harder. But they said doing that may require the help of the Chinese government.

“What’s illicit in the U.S. isn’t always illicit there,” said Ellerman.

While all packages sent to the United States are subject to inspection, drug-sniffing dogs cannot generally detect methylone and other synthetic drugs, federal agents said. A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection added they cannot stop people from ordering things off the Internet.

During a March meeting in Vienna, Austria, the director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy spoke with his counterpart in China about how to stop the international sale of methylone and other designer drugs.

“The rising threat of new synthetic drugs requires a truly international response, and we look forward to extending our cooperative work with China to address the dangers that these substances pose to the citizens of both our countries,” Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement.

 

Focus on synthetic drugs may lead more people to try out bath salts


Education and awareness has increased recently about a specific ingredient contained some bath salts that can cause individuals to experience a change in their mental status, leading to erratic behavior and death after use of such products containing the specific ingredient.

However, the information is being used in two opposite ways. Some individuals are using it for their safety, checking products to make sure they don’t contain reported ingredients so they don’t use such products. Other individuals are taking the information and seeking out such products and ingredients, so as to presumably experience the change in their mental state. The point being, the publicity about this issue to educate, inform and warn people has been followed by an increase in reported cases in which individuals have used the product and experienced the effects of change in behavior and/or death.

Statistics are showing that there has been a drastic increase in use and behavioral effects of these products rather than an expected and desired decrease. Has providing information helped more people to avoid products or given people information about a product they can use to get high?

C. Meghan Connelly
East Syracuse

Organizations seek county-wide bath salts ban


Nearly two weeks after her son committed suicide while high on bath salts, a mother in Mohawk said she wants to let people know these drugs are dangerous and destructive.
The woman — who was asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature surrounding her son’s death — said she watched as her son’s mental stability declined after he started to use the drug. “He had become extremely paranoid,” she said during a telephone conversation on Monday.
She added, “He was very depressed and wasn’t himself.”
She said state police were contacted after family members had been unable to contact him for 24 hours. He was found inside his trailer on Father’s Day, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Her son — a 39-year-old truck driver who lived in Bridgewater — left behind four children and a fiancee pregnant with his fifth child.
“What people don’t understand with these bath salts, you try them once and you’re addicted,” she said. “There’s a need to educate the public.” She added, “Before you go out and try this, you need to look at your kid. This is going to effect them. Even if they’re not near the bath salts, it’s going to effect them. It’s going to tear homes and families apart.”
The number of reported bath salts incidents has skyrocketed over the past few months in the region, with some of the individuals undergoing mental health evaluations following bizarre incidents while under the influence of the drug.
The Utica Police Department had at least three bath salts incidents to respond to over the weekend, including one on Saturday where a man was on a rooftop for hours and thought everyone was going to ambush him.
According to the Herkimer County Prevention Council’s website, “Synthetic drugs are man-made chemicals that mimic such drugs as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines.”
State Sen. Joseph Griffo announced last week he wants to see tougher legislation on synthetic drugs. He said part of the difficulty law enforcement officers and prosecuters have had is once a law is put out banning a certain compound, chemists making the drug alter the compound to make it legal again.
Lee Livermore, a public health education coordinator at the Upstate New York Poison Center in Syracuse, said the center, which covers 54 counties in the state, had just over 100 calls in 2011 about bath salts. In the first six months of 2012, they have had approximately 120 calls regarding the drug.
“I think with a lot of the media attention on bath salts, that we’re hearing about it a lot more,” he said during a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Livermore said people using bath salts experience seizures or convulsions. He said they often take their clothes off because the drug raises the core body temperature. He also said it brings on hallucinations, they experience agitation and they can show anger and violence to themselves and others.“They are just not in their right frame of mind,” he said.
Maureen Petrie, program director at the Herkimer County Prevention Council, said through a community partnership with several organizations, including the poison control center, the council hopes to see a county-wide ordinance that outlaws the sale and possession of bath salts.
“There’s a misconception that people have, that if they were legal, how bad can it be for you. When it first came out, they were in convenience stores. They were really accessible. Now that’s changing,” she said.
The village of Herkimer recently outlawed the possession of synthetic drugs and arrested a Tebbs Head Shop employee on June 28 for a violation of the new law.
Police also seized 200 packages of the bath salt known as glass cleaners.
Information posted on the Herkimer County Prevention Council’s website includes statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which showed one in nine (11.4 percent) of twelfth graders used Spice or K2 (synthetic marijuana) in 2011. This made it the second most commonly abused drug among seniors.
Livermore said this is becoming “a very serious community wide issue.”
Meanwhile, the mother in Mohawk said she hopes others can now see the devastating effects bath salts can have on a user and his or her family.
“My grandchildren have lost their father. [His fiancee] has to go through a pregnancy alone. I’ve had to watch his brother and sister try not to be angry about what happened, but they are angry. There’s sadness, confusion. Their loss is going to affect our family for the rest of our lives,” she said. “He will never get to hold his grandchildren. He won’t be at his daughter’s wedding.”

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.

New Tests for Dangerous ‘Legal Marijuana,’ ‘Bath Salts’ and Other Emerging Designer Drugs


Scientists report the development of much needed new tests to help cope with a wave of deaths, emergency room visits and other problems from a new genre of dangerous designer drugs sold legally in stores and online that mimic the effects of cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana.

They spoke at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), being held in Denver.

The reports, among more than 7,500 on the ACS agenda, focus on drugs sold as “bath salts,” “plant food,” “incense” and other products with colorful names, such as “Ivory Wave,” “Red Dove” and “legal marijuana.” They provide users with a high, but many have not yet been made illegal and are undetectable with current drug tests. In one presentation on these “legal highs,” a United Kingdom researcher reported a new method to trace the source of the substances in “bath salts.” In the other, a U.S. researcher discussed the challenges facing law enforcement and policy makers in regulating synthetic versions of marijuana.

Oliver Sutcliffe, Ph.D., and his collaborators reported the successful use of a method called isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) to determine who is making bath salts — drugs that can cause euphoria, paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations when snorted, smoked or injected — and which chemical companies supplied the raw materials. He and his co-workers are based at the University of Strathclyde and the James Hutton Institute in the U.K.

“With the new method, we could work backwards and trace the substances back to the starting materials,” said Sutcliffe. IRMS measures the relative amounts of an element’s different forms, or isotopic ratio. “This method was successful because the isotopic ratio of the starting material is transferred like a fingerprint through the synthesis,” he explained.

“Bath salts” first garnered major media attention in the U.K. in early 2010, and then became a problem in the U.S. These products are not in the supermarket soap aisle — they are sold on the Internet, on the street and in stores that sell drug paraphernalia. They are sold in small individual bags for as low as $20 each for the real purpose of providing a cheap, legal high.

The powders often contain mephedrone, which is a synthetic compound, structurally related to methcathinone, which is found in Khat — a plant that is illegal in many countries, including the U.K. and the U.S. Usually, that would mean that these compounds (and derivatives thereof) would be illegal in those countries too, but because the bath salts are labeled “not for human consumption,” they get around this restriction and other legislation governing the supply of medicines for human use. However, Florida and Louisiana — two hotspots of bath salts abuse — specifically banned the substances. U.K. officials banned the import of bath salts, which may lead some in the drug trade to set up clandestine labs on U.K. soil, said Sutcliffe. The new method provides law enforcement with a tool to track down these bath salts manufacturers.

In previous work, Sutcliffe developed the first pure reference standard for mephedrone, as well as the first reliable liquid chromatography test for the substance, which could be easily run in a typical law enforcement lab. The team is also developing a color-change test kit for mephedrone, which he estimates may be available by the end of the year.

In another presentation, Robert Lantz, Ph.D., from the Rocky Mountain Instrumental Laboratories, described another high that is legal in most of the U.S. — synthetic cannabinoids marketed as incense, a spice product or “legal marijuana” that give a high similar to marijuana without showing up in conventional drug tests.

“We can detect synthetic cannabinoids with modern analytical chemistry techniques, such as liquid or gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, but these assays are too expensive for the 5,000-10,000 urine samples that most drug testing labs receive each day,” said Lantz. Most labs screen for drugs with less expensive antibody assays, but because the structures of these substances are so dissimilar, different antibodies would likely be required for many of them, driving up the cost of a more comprehensive test.

Synthetic cannabinoid abuse rose sharply in 2010, according to U.S. poison control centers, up to 2,863 compared to only 14 in 2009. About 200 synthetic cannabinoids exist, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) banned only five of those. A handful of states, such as Washington, Georgia and Colorado, banned five of them, but they are not always the same five that the DEA banned. “The states banned several specific compounds without a particular basis for their choices,” Lantz pointed out.

Colorado recently passed a law banning any substance that binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the human body. “The bill was well-intentioned, but technically, the new law not only covers synthetic cannabinoids, but also endocannabinoids, which are naturally occurring substances that the human body produces to regulate many normal processes,” said Lantz.