Over the past two years, U.S. authorities have experienced a rapid increase in the use of "bath salts" - synthetic designer drugs made of legal chemicals that mimic the effects of cocaine, amphetamines, and other illegal stimulants. "Bath salts" users have been known to exhibit extremely bizarre, agitated, and violent behavior resembling methamphetamine users. The American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 6,100 calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 -- up from just 304 the year before -- and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.
In October 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a one-year ban on the sale and possession of three common synthetic stimulants found in bath salts: mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone. And in July 2012, President Obama signed a bill into law that bans the sale, production, and possession of more than two dozen of the most common bath salts drugs. Nevertheless, bath salts producers are constantly tweaking their recipes to come up with new drugs that aren't covered by local or federal laws. Mark Ryan, director of the Louisiana Poison Center, says there are so many different drugs out there that it's almost impossible to know what people have ingested, or how long the effects will last.
The bath salt drugs are often sold at convenient stores and paraphernalia shops under a variety of names, such as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Red Dove," "Blue Silk," "Zoom," "Bloom," "Cloud Nine," "Ocean Snow," "Lunar Wave," "Vanilla Sky," "White Lightning," and "Scarface." The regional names for the drugs in Louisiana include "Hurricane Charlie" and "Bayou." They are often falsely marketed as household items like 'bath salts,' incense, and plant food. They contain warnings such as "not to use for human consumption" in an effort to circumvent statutory restrictions on these items.
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