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Ban proposed on 'bath salts' drugs

Sen. Charles E. Schumer proposes a bill that would make the synthetic stimulants into federally controlled substances. They are already banned in 3 states and in Europe.

January 30, 2011|Reuters

New York — Two drugs that produce a meth-like high and are being sold under the guise of "bath salts" would be banned as federally controlled substances under a bill unveiled Sunday by Sen. Charles E. Schumer.

"These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country," said Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Schumer said he would introduce a bill to outlaw the two synthetic drugs — mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV. The drugs come in powder and tablet form and are ingested by snorting, injecting, smoking and, less often, by use of an atomizer.

Users experience an intense high, euphoria, extreme energy, hallucinations and insomnia and are easily provoked to anger, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is investigating the drugs.

They have emerged as legal alternatives to cocaine and methamphetamines, and one or both ingredients have already been banned in the European Union, Australia, Canada and Israel. Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota have all recently banned the substances as well.

"The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in," Schumer said.

Media reports over the last year describe the drugs as becoming increasingly popular, particularly at nightclubs, although the actual number of individuals using the drugs is unknown.

"These products are readily available at convenience stores, discount tobacco outlets, gas stations, pawn shops, tattoo parlors, truck stops and other locations" for $25 to $50 per 50-milligram packet, a DEA alert said.

The European Union banned mephedrone in December, saying the drug was directly linked to the deaths of two people, and may have been tied to 37 other deaths.

The European Union's report said there was limited scientific evidence on the effects of the drug — believed to be mostly manufactured in Asia and packaged in the West — but that the evidence of its health risks was sufficient to support a ban.

Schumer has also asked the health commissioner of New York state, Nirav Shah, to ban the two substances.

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