Keeping our Children and Families Safe

September 6, 2011

With the first week back to school underway, our children begin settling into their new routines. In-between their classes, they are meeting many new classmates and are also being exposed to new things. Wearing my other hat, as a Canton Police Officer, I want to make sure that you and your family know that sometimes, some of the things our children are exposed to may not be safe.

Recently, the National Drug and Intelligence Center (NDIC) compiled a report on a new form of drug that is on the rise. This new drug is called synthetic cathinones, or more commonly known and marketed as ‘bath salts.’
Here in the United States bath salts are legally sold with various names including Ivory, Wave, Bliss, Star Dust, Vanilla Sky, White Rush and Blizzard. These are not the salts or Epsom salts that go into our bathtubs, but rather a type of synthetic stimulant marketed as a bath salt. Synthetic cathinones may also be marketed and sold as plant food/fertilizer, insect repellent, pond cleaner and vacuum fresheners, but are still most commonly distributed as bath salts. Manufacturers of this drug also label it ‘not for human consumption’ in order to avoid being specifically enumerated as illegal.

Since there is no federal law prohibiting their sale, typically bath salts are sold in retail establishments such as adult stores, independently owned convenience stores, gas stations, head shops and skate shops. These bath salts, as well as their raw chemical components, are also sold on many Internet sites.

Commonly distributed in powder, crystal or liquid form, abusers of the drug ingest, inhale, inject, or insufflate (snort) it to experience stimulant effects similar to those induced by amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine. Additionally, synthetic cathinones are also sold by independent drug dealers as ecstasy in a tablet or capsule form and are taken in the ways already listed.

The symptoms associated with using bath salts as a drug are agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain and suicidal thoughts. As it is a stimulant, abusers also experience high blood pressure and increased heart rate. Thankfully, although reactions are extreme, to date no deaths have been linked to the drug.

In order to screen for this drug, some commercial drug testing laboratories are beginning to offer specialized synthetic cathinone testing. But just as these tests are developed to screen for and detect the presence of currently identified cathinones, drug manufacturers are synthesizing new and additional cathinones to work around the tests.

According to the report released by the NDIC, synthetic cathinone products are generally manufactured internationally and then brought into the United States. Cathinones are synthesized by rouge chemists in countries including China, India and Pakistan, and shipped out to other countries and various websites. With its spread, medical professionals and poison control centers around the United States are reporting increasing amounts of patients suffering adverse physical effects associated with the use and abuse of synthetic cathinones. In 2009 the America Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported no incidents or calls related to bath salts. However in 2010 the AAPCC reported 302 calls and between January 1, 2011 and May 12, 2011 there have been 2,237 reported calls.

As of May 2011, all 50 states as well as members of Congress have introduced legislation restricting or banning the use and distribution of some synthetic cathinones and cathinone derivatives. Some local governments have even taken action ahead of state legislatures to try and ban these substances. But as these regulations increase, abusers will look to other communities and the Internet to evade restrictions, making it increasingly important that information about this issue is available and that immediate action is taken. Not until laws become widespread and are fully implemented will there be a reduction to the supply and demand of bath slats or synthetic cathinones.

Here in Connecticut, the General Assembly passed a bill this spring making the sale of these bath salts illegal in Connecticut. The synthetic cathinones – or mephedrone and MDPV – are now considered controlled substances in schedule I of the state Controlled Substances Act’s regulations.

I encourage you to speak with your children and inform them about the dangers associated with this and any other drug. In the mean time I will continue to pass along information and work on further legislation protecting Connecticut families and children from this drug.