Flourishing on the heels of the illegalization of synthetic marijuana, fake bath salts, often referred to as synthetic cocaine, have been sending young people to the hospital and the morgue across the United States. Doctors and law enforcement officers in Louisiana report that they are getting emergency calls from parents and sometimes the victims themselves saying, "Something is wrong. Help!" Users hallucinate and sometimes become paranoid and violent.
Hearing of an increase in users going to the emergency room and suicides, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed an emergency rule earlier this week making it illegal to make, use, buy, or sell the ingredients for the substance in his state.
Anyone can order the concentrated bath salts online. Until Jindal's order, anyone in Louisiana could buy the product from convenience stores. Anyone, even children. Jindal called the rise in use "an epidemic."
Although the labels on the fake bath salts say the substance is not for human consumption, word has spread on the Internet and in the streets, say officials, that you can snort or inject the substance for a high said to be similar to the kind people experience on speed, an amphetamine.
Police officers, according to reports, say this drug is a "poor man's meth" that goes by names such as "Cloud9, White Dove, Ivory Wave, Hurricane Charlie" and more. These salts have also become problematic in Europe.
Due to the concentrated nature of this product we strongly recommend that you purchase the 250mg size if you have never purchased this product before and that for the first few hours you only use one application (10-12mg). You will be surprised by how long it lasts -- there really is no need for a second application for hours. Once you have experienced PURE IVORY bath salts you will know how to apply in future.
In big red letters on the page buyers are also informed "WE DO NOT SHIP BATH SALTS TO LOUISIANA. ORDERS FROM LOUISIANA WILL BE CANCELLED."
With a large picture of the Ivory Soft brand of these salts aka synthetic speed, the Phoenix New Times of Arizona reports:
Aside from Trails, most Valley head shops carry these "bath salts." But employees at several local smoke shops, including It's All Goodz and Nana's Smoke Shop, say they're currently sold out. They say their stock of bath salts flew off shelves after the recent spice ban (synthetic marijuana), and they also report an increase in sales of the legal hallucinogen Salvia.
A 2007 post at BlogHer warned parents about Salvia aka Sally D.
So many cases have popped up in Louisiana, which in the last few months has documented a disproportionate number of the national cases, that law enforcement officials think the state may be a distribution point. Doctors and police are both frustrated and overwhelmed.
In December, an article at Ohio's Gallipolis Daily Tribune about the growing problem of synthetic marijuana and the DEA's decision to seize five ingredients used to make it, referred to synthetic cocaine at its closing. After saying how easily kids are drawn to synthetic drugs, partly because until recently drug tests could not detect the substances, the writer says:
In the wake of synthetic marijuana, synthetic cocaine has also reared its head on the national scene. Synthetic cocaine is often sold as bath salts, commonly for $50 per half-gram. Like its fake pot counterpart, packages of fake cocaine state “not for human consumption.” Both products have been linked to severe overdoses by those who paid no attention to the warning label.
In St. Tammany Parish and St. Martin's Parish of Louisiana, two young men committed suicide "shortly after ingesting the drug," reported the New Orleans Times Picayune in a December 6 story. The article gives some history:
... white, wallet-sized "Cloud Nine" packets and black "White Dove" packets marketed as fragrant potpourri began surfacing on regional convenience store shelves not long after Aug. 15, the day a state law making it illegal to possess, sell or manufacture synthetic marijuana went into effect. Experts say the side effects of the chemical can last for days and resemble those of amphetamines -- anxiety, prolonged panic attacks and insomnia.
The bath salt packets drew special attention earlier this year from parish law enforcement after the son of a local physician snorted some, hallucinated that Army soldiers were marching on his home, and fatally shot himself with a rifle ...
In addition, an AP story based on incidents in Louisiana say that the drug may also be sold as "fake fertilizer or fake insect repellent." Sometimes it may be called "plant food."
The same story quotes Henry A. Spiller, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Center in Louisville:
"These are experienced drug users (who are reacting badly to the drug) ... There's a lot of things they'll suffer for the drug high they're looking for," Spiller said. "Even these people are coming into the emergency room. Even they can't handle these fairly nasty effects."
Gov. Jindal's order "adds six chemicals found in the illicit bath salts to the Controlled Dangerous Substance Act:
The six, according to a Governor's Office news release, are: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethcathinone, 3,4-Methyenedioxypyrovalerone, 4-Methylmethcathinone, 4-methoxymethcathinone, 4-Fluoromethcathinone, and 3-Fluoromethcathinone."
Only one of the chemicals listed on Jindal's rule, 4-Methylmethcathinone, is on the Drug Enforcement Administration's current Drugs and Chemicals of concern list. Jindal has asked, however, that the DEA investigate whether the state is a major distribution point because 80 of the 185 national cases that have come to law enforcement's attention have been in his state, reports WDSU TV.
Dr. Corey Hebert says that these substances have flown under the radar, away from the reach of the FDA because they are classified as a kind of supplement. He also told WDSU that no one should even try doing this drug once because users can end up with the kind of brain damage that changes lives forever.
Walter Reed, St. Tammany Parish's District Attorney has said, "Please talk to your children ... This will cause death."
In the video below, a WWL TV reporter interviews a mother who took her son to the hospital after he seemed to be hallucinating. She said three days later he was still hallucinating. A doctor says on screen that fake bath salts have the same kinds of effects as PCP, and officials say it may also be sold as "potpourri."
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