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NYS Lawmakers Working To Ban Meth-Like Bath Salts

Baggies of typical "bath salts"
Paul J. Richards, AFP, Getty Images

Utica, NY (WIBX) - It’s not the kind of “bath salts” you’re probably thinking about…These are meth-like “bath salts,” and they’re becoming more popular with young people, and many states, including New York, are working to enact laws banning them. These so called “bath products” are responsible for the overdose of many young people all across the country. Some have even committed suicide and homicide, after injesting the legal synthetic hallucinogenic drug that are readily available at head shops or novelty stores throughout the country.

“And right now there’s nothing illegal about that but there being misused,” said New York State Senator, Joseph Griffo, (R-Rome). Griffo, along with Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, (D-NYC) introduced a bill, (S.3322; 4769-A) to outlaw “bath salts” back in February. Griffo said, “What this bill would do is ban the sale, the manufacture, and the distribution of these deceptively labelled hallucinogenic products.”

“bath salts” come in powder and tablet form with names like, White Rush, Vanilla Sky, Bliss, Red dove, Blue Silk and Zoom,  and when injested, health officials say they can cause a person to experience anxiety, hypertension, agitations and even psychosis. “I heard one person describe it as Meth on Crack, which fortunately for me, I don’t know what that means but it sounds very scary,” said Assembly Braunstein, whose urging state officials to act quickly on passing a law before more tragedies occur.

Braunstein said early on he was dealing with road blocks trying to pass 4769-A, “They were waiting for the federal government and they told me that was their policy but once the department of health declared it a public emergency, I think the Assembly leadership doubled back and took another look at it, and decided we should move ahead.” Griffo said the measure had support in the Senate but members  didn’t move quickly on it saying, “Because there was some concern as to how the state would approach it from the Department of Health, and again, it’s important that we continue to communicate beyond the same page because we just want to get the best result.” He said the best result would be from passing a law rather than a directive or administrative order.

“There’s three weeks left in the legislative session and we’re hopeful that the new attention can help us push this across the finish line, so we can codify this ban permanently in law and prevent the possession as well as the sale and distribution of these products,” Braunstein said. If the measure passes in the Assembly and Senate, New York would be following New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota and Oregon in banning the sale of the chemical substances that make up Bath Salts. Braunstein says New Jersey modeled its bill after the one being considered in NYS right now, and said the state passed it after another homicide that’s being blamed on someone who allegedly abused Bath Salts.

Griffo said, “The Assemblyman and I will continue to work to put the right bill together that we can get passed in both Houses and get the governors signature and then it will be the law of the State of New York.” Although the Department of Health recently issued an emergency ban on the product, the two lawmakers say it’s not enough to stop young people from abusing the product and say aggressive awareness about the dangers it poses to communities are needed. Both officials say their efforts to ban the hallucinogenic products is being supported by Governor Cuomo and Senator Charles Schumer.

According to Griffo’s office, if the measure passes it would add the following chemicals as Schedule 1 drugs: 3,4-Methylenedioxymenthcathinone (Methylone), 2,4- Methyenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV); 4-Methoxymethcathione; 4-Methymethcathinone (Medphedrone); 4- Fluoromethcathione; and 3- Fluorometcathinone. A person found possessing manufacturing, or distributing any of these substances would face a class C felony for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The America Association of Poison Control Centers report they have taken 251 calls regarding Bath Salts since the start of 2011, and report 236 such calls in 2010. The Upstate New York Poison Control Center is reporting 5 Bath Salts call so far. However, according to a report from Griffo’s office, Michele Calvia, RN CSPI, Administrative Director at the Center, cautions that there may be cases related to Bath Salts,but are not being recognized as such.

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