One year ago bath salts were largely unknown in Maine, but today this drug is wreaking havoc on our State and people. Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.
Bath salts have devastating consequences for those that abuse it and are likely to have contributed to, at least, one death in Maine, so far.
Law enforcement and hospital officials are reporting an influx of people becoming delusional and violent after injecting, snorting or smoking the synthetic drug.
Bangor and Portland appear to be hot spots for this drug. However, rural parts of Maine are seeing increased use as well. Police in Aroostook County are reporting abuse of bath salts which illustrate that rural areas have not been immune to this growing problem.
The Maine drug enforcement agency is working with local authorities to identify the sources of the drug which has a variety of street names including Monkey Dust, Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Pure Ivory, Whack, Crush, Purple Rain, Salt, and Ocean Burst.
According to the Northern New England Poison Control Center, since the start of 2011, nearly 100 calls linked to bath salts were reported from Maine. The number is staggering when compared to the single call the Center took last year from Maine.
In July, Maine enacted emergency legislation to make it illegal to possess or sell any of the 21 different drugs or stimulants that are sold and marketed as bath salts.
Other states have passed similar bills and pending Federal legislation would ban at least two "bath salts" chemicals.
When the Legislature convenes next month it is my hope that we are able to strengthen the law even more.
One of my major concerns is this dangerous drug will become available to our school children. I am very concerned that with schools opening soon these drugs have the potential of finding their way into the classrooms.
I have asked Education Commissioner Steve Bowen to make sure school administrators and nurses know the warning signs, as school reopens soon.
I urge parents to familiarize themselves with the dangers of bath salts. Also, if you suspect someone to be using this drug, please call 911 or contact your local authorities immediately.
The Maine Office of Substance Abuse has created a fact sheet that has been published for the public and is available on their website as well as ours. To get the latest information on the dangers of bath salts visit Maine.gov/governor (www.maine.gov/governor).
Thank you for listening to this important message this week. Take care and enjoy the weekend.