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Bath salts have become a problem for local law enforcementPosted Monday, November 7, 2011, at 10:23 AM
So-called bath salts -- one of the latest fads in synthetic stimulants -- are deemed illegal and included in a Indiana law that was effective July 1 banning synthetic marijuana products.
However, they are still showing up locally in some inmates residing in the Greene County Jail.
That's a concern for local law enforcement officers, the prosecutor's office and the courts.
GCSD Chief Deputy Major Mike Hasler recently told me that bath salts are just another thing that police agencies have to be concerned with these days.
People under the influence of bath salts are viewed as more violent in their behavior.
The county had a strangulation and domestic battery case in September in which the defendant was alleged to have been under the influence of bath salts.
Major Hasler says local officers are seeing criminal suspects on bath salts with increasing frequency.
"Actually, I think a lot of the people we deal with appear to be more violent on the bath salts. It's all bad," Hasler said. "It seems like when we have to deal with someone on bath salts there is more violence and it does take more to restrain the person."
Hasler said bath salts have not reached the epidemic proportion on a scale with methamphetamine, but he noted, "It's definitely something that is here and something that we (as a law enforcement agency) are concerned about. I think there are a lot of people that do the bath salts that don't do some of the other stuff. I think the cost of it is one factor. The other factor is when people started doing it, it wasn't illegal to do. I think the other side of it is, they got some of the same results from it where you could stay up for days. It's just seems like they are more aggressive on it."
Indiana State Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) wrote the bill making synthetic marijuana products like Spice controlled substances across Indiana. The bill also covers chemical compounds found in some products labeled as bath salts but used as a mind-altering stimulant that, until now, skirted state law.
Certain kinds of bath salts have emerged as a substance-abuse problem rivaling Spice -- the product marketed as incense but in so many cases used like marijuana. Like Spice, these mind-altering bath salts have been sold under a variety of names, including "Ivory Wave," Vanilla Sky," "Bubbles" and "Tranquility."
The two main ingredients in these dangerous so-called bath salts are actually powerful stimulants that can mimic illegal drugs like methamphetamine, amphetamine or ecstasy. Effects from ingesting the products this way can range from elevated heart rates, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations or even suicidal tendencies.
The Indiana Poison Control Center reports more than 250 cases of bath salt incidents this year.
Nationwide, the American Association of Poison Control Centers had received 2,237 calls related to bath salt products so far in 2011 -- more than seven times the number taken during all of 2010.
The senate bill also aimed at synthetic marijuana products -- herbs sprayed with hallucinogenic chemicals. When smoked, these products dangerously distort perceptions and impair coordination. Local ordinances passed by some communities lack enforcement across jurisdictions and are limited to lesser penalties and fines. Police and prosecutors asked lawmakers for a statewide ban while federal Drug Enforcement Administration officials consider a nationwide prohibition.
Now, these synthetic products are on the controlled substances list.
Another law that went into effect July 1 calls for retailers to place dissolvable tobacco products securely behind counters and away from minors. Often marketed in brightly colored, candy-like packages that can be appealing to younger consumers, dissolvable tobacco contains harmful ingredients that cause tooth decay and cancer.
Penalties for selling tobacco products to minors are also strengthened by this law.
It sure looks like our law enforcement agencies are being bombarded with a wide array of new challenges to keep our residents safe and protected.
And shame on the manufacturers who target our younger generation with harmful tobacco products masked as candy.
Let's hope the new laws will help slow down this attack on our society.
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