An amendment cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) to outlaw dangerous synthetic drugs known as "bath salts" is close to becoming law. The federal ban will prevent users from crossing state lines and buying the drugs legally.
Referred to as "bath salts" (or "plant food") because of its powdery, white, clumpy texture, this meth-like drug is unrelated to traditional bath products and can make users delusional, erratic, violent, and paranoid. "Bath salts" contain man-made chemicals such as mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), also known as substituted cathinones. While 38 states have made "bath salts" illegal, Reed says a national ban is needed and recently helped pass legislation in the U.S. Senate to classify them as Schedule I controlled substances, thus treating them like LSD, heroin, and methamphetamine.
This week, negotiators from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives reached a compromise on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reauthorization bill to include the Reed-backed amendment to control 28 synthetic substances under the Controlled Substances Act and also double the length of time the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) can temporarily ban substances to allow a permanent ban to take effect.
"I am pleased we have reached an agreement to get these dangerous synthetic drugs off the shelves and off the streets. Enacting a federal law banning so-called "bath salts" nationwide is a crucial part of combating this threat to public health and safety," said Reed, who cosponsored an amendment banning mephedrone and MDPV under the federal Controlled Substances Act as drugs that have no legitimate medical value and a high potential for abuse.
Currently, Rhode Island is not one of the 38 states to outlaw "bath salts." But in October 2011, the DEA, using emergency authority, made possessing and selling these chemicals, or the products that contain them, illegal in the United States. This temporary action is designed to keep these chemicals controlled on a short-term basis until Congress could reach a long-term solution.
At the state level, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, members of the General Assembly, and medical and law enforcement professionals have rightfully recognized the risk of "bath salts."
The Senate version of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act that passed the full Senate last month contained the Reed-back amendment to ban these synthetic drugs. Yesterday, the House passed a compromise FDA package with language banning bath salts. The Senate is expected to pass the same version of the bill in short order and then send it to President Obama to be signed into law.