State bans bath salts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Attorney General Luther Strange and State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson announced an “emergency” ban on a drug commonly known as “bath salts” Tuesday.

These drugs, which contain two dangerous chemicals, create a methamphetamine-like high and sometimes violent behavior in users. The chemicals contained are methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and mephedrone – both of which are listed by the DEA and the Alabama Controlled Substances Lists as Schedule I stimulants.

These substances have been purchased over the counter at convenience stores and gas stations or purchased online.

While local stores are not carrying the products known as “bath salts,” there have been two confirmed cases in Covington County of people using the products to get high, Drug Task Force Agent Chris Byrd said.

“There was a guy between 18 and 19 and a female in her 40s,” he said. “The lady said she’d snorted it, and the way it affected her was that she basically had no control over actions – she was fidgety, had slurred speech.

“It was the first time we’d dealt with it, and it was pretty disturbing,” he said.

Users of these drugs have been treated for conditions that include extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, hypertension, chest pain and headache, according to state health officials.

“These powdered stimulants pose a serious health threat and have a great potential for abuse,” said State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson at the day’s emergency ban announcement. The emergency ban will remain in place until the state Legislature passes a permanent ban during the 2011 legislative session, Williams said. State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, likely will propose the legislation, he said.

The drugs are sold under such names as Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Bliss and Vanilla Sky, and with the ban, Alabama joins Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota in prohibiting the substances.

Lt. Lance Price of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said the drugs are slowly making their way into the state, as demonstrated by the two known local cases.

“They’ve had some reports of it in stores over the Dothan way, but luckily, we haven’t found any here,” said Price of his monthly checks to area convenience stores. “It’s pretty dangerous stuff. They cut it just like cocaine or meth and snort it up. People should know we’re on the look out for this stuff now.”