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Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Deadly Pinch of Salts

Thank you Representative Margaret Ann Ruhl
Representative Clayton Luckie,
and Senator Dave Burke. 
Your sponsorship of House Bill 64 will, undoubtedly, 
protect the health and lives of residents of Ohio.

Ruhl, R-Mount Vernon; Luckie, D-Dayton; and Burke, R-Marysville announced that House Bill 64, which was signed into law in July, will be effective on October 17th. ("Statewide K2 Bath Salts Law Takes Effect Oct. 17," Bellefontaine Examiner, October 8 2011)

The act — jointly sponsored by Ruhl and Burke — bans the possession, use and sale of synthetic drugs commonly known as "K2" or "spice" and adds six synthetic derivatives of cathinone that have been found in bath salts to the list of Schedule I controlled hallucinogenic substances.

Under H.B. 64 penalties for the possession or trafficking of K2 or spice will be the same as currently enforced for marijuana — a minor misdemeanor for possession and a fifth degree felony if convicted of trafficking in the vicinity of a school or juvenile.

"K2 and bath salts have already taken the lives of many Ohioans,” Senator Burke said. “As a pharmacist, I understand the effect these substances have on the human body. Making these products illegal is the only way to stop the shadowy underworld of these designer drugs."
H.B. 64 received widespread bipartisan support in the Ohio House and Senate where the bill was adopted 95-1 and 33-0, respectively.

These substances are popular among illegal drug users because, until now, they were legal and virtually undetectable on average employment drug-screen tests. They have drawn the attention of law enforcement when people began showing up in hospitals and even dying after smoking or snorting them.

Last fall, Alliance and Hartville officials outlawed K2, which police, users and even manufacturers said mimics the effects of marijuana yet does not contain THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in pot. Thirteen states already had deemed K2 and its chemical ingredient, JWH-018, as illegal. (Lori Monsewicz, "Bath Salts -- the New Drug of Choice -- Are Outlawed,", July 18 2011)

State Representative Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, stated, “The folks that are producing this stuff keep on changing it, making slight variations to the chemical compound,” Schuring said. “They cleverly try to use a different recipe to mix their cocktail. Yet, they are still using the cannabinoids and the (same) primary ingredients.”

Schuring said the H.B. 64 casts “a wider net." The legislation contains a provision that allows state officials to add any future substances designed to imitate the effect of illegal drugs to Ohio's list of controlled substances.

“So, as this stuff keeps evolving into different types of chemical combinations, we can use law enforcement to reign them in,” he said. “These are very dangerous drugs, particularly the bath salts and what it does.”

Side Effects of Bath Salts

Extreme Paranoia
Psychosis From Sleep Withdrawal
Increased Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Death - By way of Overdose, Self-Harm, or Suicide.

One additional problem with bath salts overdoses is that they are difficult to treat even when the victims are brought to the emergency room because medical professionals do not know what toxin may be causing the problem. With other drugs, including opiates, there are readily available injections that can counteract bad effects and overdose situations. Bath salts overdoses may go untreated, and can be misdiagnosed as other issues since the drugs themselves aren't discovered in standard drug testing.

Bath Salts Incidents 

A Tennessee man high on the drugs threatened to perform surgery on himself, believing something was in his leg.

A Florida man walked into Tampa traffic, yelling and banging on cars, and later died of a bath salts overdose.

A couple high on bath salts in West Pittston, Pennsylvania., thought 90 people were hiding in their apartment walls. "They were actually ripping the drywall off the walls and trying to stab people inside the walls with large knives," a police officer said.

In Washington state, a family wound up dead after the parents took bath salts. An Army Sgt., a medic with post-traumatic stress disorder, shot his wife and then himself during a police chase. Authorities later found the couple's 5-year-old son suffocated with a bag tied over his head at their trashed home, where several open packages of bath salts were spotted. Tests showed both parents had bath salts in their systems.

In Kansas, a 21-year-old  ran onto Interstate 135, waving his hands, before he was struck and killed by a van. In his pocket, police discovered a container of Blue Magic Bath Salts.

A 29-year-old committed suicide in Missouri, allegedly after a binge on Ivory Wave bath salts. He had reportedly been off painkillers for two years when he developed an addiction to Ivory Wave. His father told media he found several packets of the bath salts in his son's room. His friends and family described him as emaciated, paranoid, and sleepless in the days leading to his death.

In Minnesota, the boom of a gunshot jolted a mother out of bed. Holding her breath as she ran down the stairs to the garage, she flung open the door. Her 32-year-old son calmly came inside clutching a Winchester rifle. She grabbed the gun and called 911. "Can't you see them? There's people messing with my car," she remembers him saying as he paced from window to window in the living room, flipping on yard lights and peering outside. "There they are." His mother looked. The dark street was empty. She learned that night that her son, who she said had a history of chemical abuse, had taken a man-made substance with the slang name "plant food," better known as bath salts.

In Winona, Minnesota, a 26-year-old, said he had been drug-free for "quite some time." But when someone at a party offered him a free sample of the new drug and told him it was legal, he decided to try it. He ended up using the stimulants for six months. He said he hallucinated about angels and demons and once swallowed more than 2 grams when he thought that police were coming to get him. He watched as other users ripped their clothes off in search of imaginary surveillance devices, tore walls down and even picked holes into their faces. "I've never experienced any other drug like this," he said. "This is complete psychosis."

In Mississippi, a man high on bath salts shot a sheriff's deputy who tried to subdue him with a Taser. Five men struggled to control him. "We all got out there and fought with him ... we tried to tie him down with gurney straps ... he just broke them like it wasn't anything," said the sheriff's investigator. "I've messed with people on meth, cocaine, LSD, everything just about, and I've never seen anything like it."
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