Meth-like ‘bath salts’ still legal in places

“Bath salts” that produce a different kind of relaxation — or lack thereof.

Candice Wheeler

The highly addictive and increasingly popular synthetic drug code-named “bath salts” contains amphetamine-like chemicals, producing a high deemed far worse than cocaine. Poison call centers around the U.S. started receiving bath salt-related calls in 2010 — 304 in total. By 2011, the number increased to a whopping 6,138 calls. More than 60 percent of these cases were adults 25 and younger.

A&E’s “Intervention” featured a 24-year old named Skyler who snorted up to 10 lines of bath salts a day. He had been suffering from severe paranoia and meth-like hallucinations due to drug use and sleep deprivation. Skyler even tried to make a weapon so he could fight off imaginary intruders.

The chemicals in bath salts, like methadone and methylone, are illegal in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Poison Control Center. But these substances are still widely available online and have yet to be nationally outlawed. As recent as last year, the drug was legally sold in tobacco shops around the country — disguised as bath salts and sold under cover names like Bliss, Ivory Wave and Vanilla Sky. The ironic “not for human consumption” warning label fails to illustrate the product’s intended use.

Although Gov. Mark Dayton made possession or sale of bath salts a felony last year, not all of Congress is convinced. U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., voted against the House bill along with 82 Democrats and 16 Republicans. Ellison said he does not want to subject low-level users to the long prison terms that accompany drug offenses. Many retailers in Minnesota also fought against the law last summer, saying it was too vague and not backed by scientific evidence.

The drug’s harmful nature is proof enough. High usage affects the central nervous system and can lead to heart attack, stroke and even death. An investigation led by the Star Tribune indicated the drug has led to more than 15 deaths nationwide. The epidemic will not be resolved until it has the political support backing it up.