A new law that will ban a chemical hallucinogen known as “bath salts” is being considered in Ohio, Texas, Michigan, and seven other states after reports that the substance is causing deaths among its users. Unlike the harmless scented crystals used in bath water, this “salt” is actually a form of cocaine which is sold legally in some tobacco stores across the nation. The bath salts in question contain mephedrone, which is made from cathinone, which is highly addictive, can cause hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, high heart rates, and eventual coma. Experts on bath salts claim the drug has no beneficial value to users. One study of the drug users admitted to a hospital in Michigan reveals that half of them suffer from some form of mental illness. So how did this particular illegal drug make its way into tobacco stores?
According to the Center for Disease Control, a lack of regulation in Ohio where the use of bath salts grew rapidly between 2010 and 2011, with 170 reported cases in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland is a primary cause. Bath salts are labeled as not being intended for human consumption, but those who have had experience using illegal drugs know how to use them. Bath salts are also marketed as Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, and White Lightning.
One Texas bath salts user, Joey Baldwin, committed suicide at the age of 31. His father, James Baldwin, took the matter to the state government, which helped in getting a bill outlawing the drug signed by Governor Rick Perry. If the bill is signed, possession of bath salts will result in anywhere between 180 days to 99 years in jail, if the gram amount is between less than one, to 400 grams. If someone is caught with more than 400 grams on them, punishment may be life imprisonment. The bill is expected to go into effect in September 2011.
It is not uncommon for illegal drugs to be disguised under the names of everyday items. For example, crack is also known as ice cube, cocaine is sometimes referred to as jam, and heroin has been called black pearl. Bath salt cocaine is not likely to be sold in Wal-Mart, Target, or dollar stores for actual bath use.