Obama Signs Federal Ban on ‘Bath Salt’ Drugs

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The Miami Herald / AP

Miami police officers stand watch near naked Rudy Eugene, second from right, who was shot dead by a police officer when he refused to stop chewing on the face of the naked man next to him in late May. Eugene was originally believed to have been under the influence of bath salts at the time of the attacks.

Is our long zombie cannibal bath salt apocalypse finally over? On Monday, President Obama signed a bill to ban several types of synthetic drugs, including synthetic marijuana and the now-infamous “bath salts” that have been implicated in a slew of grisly attacks in recent months. But there have been countless bans on these drugs over the past few years, and they’ve done little or nothing to halt the their spread – manufacturers routinely get around these laws by slightly altering the chemical formula to create a compound that may be only a few molecules different but delivers the same high. How will this new law be any different?

One of the biggest weaknesses of prior local bans has been their inability to stop online sale. As the drug becomes harder and harder to buy in local stores due to bans and bad press, more and more of the drug’s present users are buying it drug online. But the new ban is the first to be enacted on a federal level, meaning it covers the online and interstate sale of bath salts and other synthetics.

(MORE: Miami Moves to Ban Bath Salts)

But the new law’s unique force is that it prohibits not only the compounds currently identified as “bath salts,” but also outlaws similar compounds that may be produced in the future. In addition to the identified compounds, the law also prohibits other any synthetics that may have different chemical formulas but produce the same effects.

“This law will close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensure that you cannot simply cross state lines to find these deadly bath salts,” Senator Charles Schumer, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a press release.

Monday’s law bans the active ingredients of bath salts, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, by adding them to the Food and Drug Administration’s category of substances that cannot be sold under any circumstances and also cannot be prescribed for medical purposes.

The law enumerates 31 compounds that are explicitly banned, giving the precise, dizzying chemical name of each. (20 from the list are synthetic marijuana varieties, and 10 are bath salts.) The compounds listed, experts say, are some of the most popular varieties currently being used, so their immediate ban should slow synthetic drug use at least for the moment.

(MORE: ‘Bath Salts’: Evil Lurking at Your Corner Store)

“Certainly there’ll be new compounds,” Gail Banach, director of public education and communications at the Upstate New York Poison Center, explained. “But if you build the higher wall, it makes it a little more difficult for the water to get over it.”

Because “the drug manufacturers are always one step ahead of the law,” in Banach’s words, the law was written to pre-emptively ban the new varieties that bath salt manufacturers will likely develop to get around the ban. The bill also prohibits “analogues” of the banned compounds—compounds that may differ slightly in their chemical makeup but produce very similar reactions in users.

When new compounds (which have most likely already been created by drug designers) hit the market, drug enforcement agents will be able to crack down on them under the same law, without the need for new legislation.

Opponents of the bill have objected that the penalties for possession of the synthetic drugs were too extreme. Sen. Rand Paul, who led the opposition to the bill, has expressed concern that issuing an extreme federal prohibition on another drug would put even more people in our already overcrowded prisons.

(MORE:The Real Victims of the Zombie Bath Salt Apocalypse)

Paul and other opponents have voiced concerns that strict prohibitions on the drug may block research on the drugs by making them too difficult to obtain, even for scientific purposes.

Others have argued that we aren’t yet fully aware of the drugs’ effects. For instance, the first and most famous attack reported as part of the “zombie bath salt” craze was revealed last week to be unrelated to the designer drug.  A toxicology report on the perpetrator, Rudy Eugene, found that the attacker had no synthetic compounds (only marijuana) in his system.

But experts say there is no doubt that the drug is dangerous. Banach said that she has seen the number of emergency room visits for synthetic drugs increase tenfold recently, and receives countless calls from emergency room doctors about how to deal with synthetic drugs. The May highway attack notwithstanding, the drug has been linked to other attacks and is known to produce violent reactions.

MORE: The Cannabis Cannibal? Miami Face-Eater Didn’t Take ‘Bath Salts’

12 comments
djrollergurl
djrollergurl

Any info anyone can get me on the bath salt laws in ohio Iwould appreiate it I'm facing 3 to 11 years mandatory my husbands facing 57 years on a like and simular law in ohio. We only had the store from january till march it was left to us when my best friend passed away I'm a mother and grandmother my youngest is 9 and the thought of losing her is killing me so any help will be more than appreaited

Non Shadowhuntaz
Non Shadowhuntaz

ive been crushing and snorting  all this stuff for nothing.  lame 

Jae Jasper
Jae Jasper

More taxpayer dollars wasted locking up people who aren't hurting anyone. Here's an idea, if you really want to lock people up, why not focus on those who truly and irrepairably do damage to others. Pedophiles, Rapists, inner city dealers who sell in front of schools. Lock these ones up and NEVER let them out. Let the kids smoke pot. Low grade speed? Hell, show me a single officer of the court that didn't take Yellow Jackets to get through their college finals... Just call a duck a duck. The courts are too busy with petty nonsense as it is to waste more time and money on legislation that hasn't affected anyone. And as for the calls about bath salts becoming an issue in emergency rooms? How many cases of alcohol poisoning did that same ER see earlier this year? Prohibition doesn't work. It failed in the first timeline of prohibition from 1830 with the Temperance movement all the way to 1933 when it was repealed with the 21st amendment. You know what they accomplished in that time? They wasted money during the most financially trying era in American history, they created organized crime in the United States, and all so they could take it all back when they realized how many people they had pissed off... 

Anna Dougherty
Anna Dougherty

 All though I agree with you about locking up the people that need locked up, ie..."Pedophiles, Rapists, inner city dealers who sell in front of schools", and that smoking a little pot isn't going to hurt anyone. I agree with them finally doing something about this bath salt craziness! I am a paramedic, and we have gotten hundreds and hundreds of calls to peoples house where someone was out of controll. Trashing the house, hurting them selves and anyone who got in their way! On top of everything, my little sister uses this crap, and let me tell you it is NO JOKE. She has always been an addict, but after she started using these bath salts, she has begun to loose her mind!! She hears people who are not there, thinks they are trying to hurt her. Its going on all over the country. If they don't do something to at least put a dent into this shit, it's going to over take us. when these people are high on bath salts they don't comprehend any rational thoughts,  they believe in what ever delusion is going on inside of their head. Their mother could be working for the cops and trying to catch them and take them to jail, or their best fiend could be trying to kill them. It's not to much longer and they will begin to act upon the delusions , and that's when people not just the drug user starts to get hurt.  I don't think the people using the drug deserve to be locked up forever, but these people that are manufacturing and selling the drugs( like the people at the head shops and gas stations) are doing it without any thoughts to the people they are helping to hurt. The only thing they care about it the all mighty dollar!! Those are the ones that I hope this law will help put in jail!! We need to educate our children and teens and make them realize that they have no idea how these drugs with affect them 5, 10, 20 years down the road. They could be permanently damaging their brains, and the people making the drugs don't really give a shit.  ok I'mdone ranting!!!! lol just had to get it out of my system!!

Jose Gonzales
Jose Gonzales

More government trying to treat sympthoms instead of the problem.  Legalize real marijuana.  Obama is a fraud.

Julie Jivetin
Julie Jivetin

 Obama is a fraud? Do you know how much it would hurt his campaign to legalize marijuana? It's not the right time. Maybe in his second term he would tackle the issue, Romney sure as hell won't.

Billy Hart
Billy Hart

sad that the media blamed the Zombie Apocalypse on 'Bath Salt' when it was not even a trace of 'bath salt' in the person's system. In fact, it was marijuana that they found in his system. HE must have had the 'munchies'. 

Paulpot
Paulpot

More fabulous drug hysteria.

Just legalize pot.

Let people have the SAFER choice.

IonOtter
IonOtter

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