U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, praised the Senate's passage of legislation late last month that would make the sale of chemical compounds found in bath salts and synthetic marijuana illegal in the United States, urging members of the House-Senate conference committee to preserve the measure during its negotiations this month.
"Dangerous drugs like bath salts are terrorizing our communities and destroying lives," Senator Coons said. "Stricter measures must be taken to stem the growing prevalence of bath salts and other new designer drugs. I applaud my Senate colleagues for their tireless push to gain support for this measure and applaud its final passage as part of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. As the conference committee takes up this bill for consideration, I urge members to ensure the final conference report includes this important provision."
The synthetic drugs measure in the FDA bill incorporates the provisions of three bills, all of which have been cosponsored by Senator Coons: Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act of 2011, Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2011, and Combating Designer Drugs Act of 2011. Included among the list of targeted compounds are MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone, the active ingredients in bath salts. According to numerous reports, the chemicals found in these bath salts and plant foods cause effects similar to those caused by cocaine and Methamphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. In one case a user was reported to have resorted to self-mutilation after abusing the substance. In several cases, users have died after overdosing or because of violent behavior.
In addition to outlawing bath salts, the measure would also take the chemicals the DEA has identified within synthetic marijuana products and place them as Schedule I narcotics with other deadly drugs like heroin and LSD. It would close loopholes that have made the spread of synthetic marijuana almost impossible to stop because manufacturers tweak the chemical compounds to create products that are not technically covered under existing bans. According to emergency room doctors, the chemical compounds found in synthetic marijuana can produce intense highs which may lead to seizures, hallucinations, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and panic attacks. These products are also known to cause erratic behavior and may lead to the injury or death of the user.
Synthetic marijuana products like "Legal Phunk,' "Spice,' and other brands, and bath salts like Tranquility, Zoom, Ivory Wave, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky, are openly being sold on local store counters, smoke shops and convenience stores under the guise of incense or potpourri. The products can often be found near college campuses.
The provision banning the sale of these harmful "designer" drugs was passed in the Senate on May 24th as part of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act. The House passed its own FDA reauthorization on May 30th, but did not include the bath salts provision.