published Monday, February 7th, 2011

Georgia targets bath salts used as drug

  • photo
    Examples of fake "bath salts" are displayed by Senate Drug Policy Committee chairman Sid Albritton, R-Picayune, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. The salts contain toxic chemicals that some people snort, smoke or huff to get a hallucinogenic high, and lawmakers are talking about banning them. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Georgia lawmakers are moving quickly to ban a legal synthetic drug that is sold as bath salts and which police say is potentially deadly.

Ivory Wave, Cloud Nine and Red Dove are just a few of the names for the bath salts, which can cause a user to hallucinate for days after snorting, huffing or injecting them. They are available in some stores and on the Internet and cost about $20 per packet.

"Because it is legal, we have a lot of kids who think it's safe," said state Rep. Jay Neal, R-LaFayette. He said he plans to introduce legislation today to ban the ingredients used in the bath salts.

The powdery packets are a hot topic in statehouses and media outlets across the country, and there have been several cases of emergency room trips and a few deaths related to the use of the substance.

Lawmakers in Georgia and several neighboring states -- but not Tennessee -- have filed or plan to introduce bills to ban the suspect bath salts.

While local police say they haven't seen the drug sold in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia, the salts are sold in head shops and some convenience stores in Atlanta.

"As of right now, we can say that it's not showing up on our doorsteps, but that's not to say it's not here," said Hamilton County Sheriff's Office Lt. Van Hinton.

When drug trends reach Atlanta, it's usually just a matter of time before they extend into the Chattanooga region, police say.

The issue came to light in early January, when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an emergency rule to outlaw the product. Louisiana's poison control center received more than 125 calls in the last three months of 2010 involving the chemicals, The Associated Press reported.

"We need to address it very quickly," said Officer Michael Gardner, with the Marietta Police Department near Atlanta. "I've seen people extremely geeked out on meth ... but I've never seen the effects last this long."

The hallucination is much stronger than LSD or Ecstasy, said Gardner, who first witnessed a patient hospitalized from the drug in November. The patient hallucinated for three days and was extremely paranoid, even asking the security guards watching him if they had stolen his beer, Gardner said.

When the patient finally woke up, he was physically exhausted and couldn't remember anything, Gardner said.

The bath salts are made with at least seven to nine chemicals that don't show up in a typical drug test, said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Control Center. A similar synthetic drug is advertised as plant fertilizer in other countries, he said.

Because the chemicals are made with different ingredients and the potency varies, users quickly can overdose with effects similar to methamphetamine, Gardner said.

Neal said lawmakers see no option but to make the ingredients a Schedule I controlled substance, regulating the salts the same as other serious drugs including heroin and cocaine, Neal said.

While local police say they haven't seen the bath salts sold in any local stores, they support legislation that could nip the problem in the bud.

"It's something police are aware of but haven't seen yet," said Dalton Police Lt. Chris Crossen.

"It should be banned," Hinton said. "If there's no medical use for a drug substance, then there's no reason to have it."

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at jlukachick@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659.



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about Joy Lukachick...

Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...

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heresmeliag said...

This garbage should be stopped as soon as possible. Drug dealers and the drug addicts, along with the businesses who sell this and other stuff, will always try to find ways to go around laws to get whatever it is they want to sell or use to get high with. The dealers don't care if it will kill someone and the addicts don't care either as long as they can get high on something. Any business that sells this so called bath salts should be treated as any other drug dealer or user. I would like to know why hasn't Florida done anything about this.

February 7, 2011 at 3:36 a.m.
dao1980 said...

I have always kinda thought that this stuff should be legal to help weed out the idiots. Ya know, like population control since there aren't any lions or tigers eating the stupid kids before they can pass their DNA onto another generation of goofs.

Its like this, if you think its cool to stick a cabbage up your butt because it makes you feel different... than maybe your better off as food for some other creature that is busy investing more valuable amounts of energy in its own survival.

February 7, 2011 at 8:14 a.m.
DEB said...

This article was good, but it did not tell us what the ingredients were. What if the ingredients included baking soda or some other essential household necessity? An example is the drug used to make Meth. Instead of making it a schedule I controlled substance, exterminate meth manufacturers! Drug penalties are not stiff enough. Bring in the death penalty for anyone convicted of selling, transporting or manufacturing drugs. Then, have public hangings on the courthouse lawns. Some of you readers may think that this idea is absurd, but I ask you: Is it as absurd as the supreme court ruling which legalized the murderous butchering of unborn human infants?

February 7, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.
devotchka said...

From the last comment, its easy to see that some of the readers are literally on drugs right now. They obviously wouldn't tell you what its made out of, they're afraid that some nimrod will start trying to make it. I'm not even commenting on the rest.

For my comments, its just kind of amusing what people are willing to put into their bodies. Not just as far as drugs, but period. This stuff, drugs made from drain cleaner and cut with something unknown. The food we eat, full of steroids and hormones, just to make the meat grow faster and line some guy's pocket.

February 7, 2011 at 11:36 a.m.
Nina said...

This is not fair to people who really use bath salts for the right purpose! The companies that make the stuff are going to lose money for a product they can't sell! So there comes more job loss and more sucky economy! It doesn't effect just the drug users it effects everything.

February 7, 2011 at 4:18 p.m.
chatttn said...

wildman - love your comments - you are too funny!

February 7, 2011 at 4:38 p.m.
chatttown said...

I agree, free the weed, legalize it!

February 9, 2011 at 8:49 p.m.
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