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'Bath Salts' bill clears Senate

Published May 13. 2011 05:00PM

Pennsylvania has moved a step closer to banning the sale of a trio of synthetic drugs, including the stimulant known as bath salts.

On Tuesday, the proposed legislation cleared the Senate by unanimous vote, and is now headed for the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.

Once signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett, the legislation would ban the sale of bath salts, synthetic marijuana, salvia divanorum and a synthetic cocaine called "blizzard." It would also include the chemicals on the list of controlled substances.

The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28. The state House of Representatives passed similar legislation on April 4.

Senator David G. Argall (R-29) co-sponsored the bill.

"I'm happy to see the Senate take swift action on a serious problem facing Pennsylvanians," he said. "We continue to see devastating headlines day after day, week after week of individuals abusing this drug. This legislation will ban 'bath salts' in Pennsylvania and prevent future tragedies from happening in the future."

The bill addresses the chemicals that compose bath salts: 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV, and mephedrone, which mimic the effect of illegal drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine. Snorted or injected, bath salts cause blood pressure to skyrocket, putting users at risk of strokes; tit causes rapid heart beats, extreme paranoia and hallucinations.

In recent months, police and hospital emergency rooms have handled increasing numbers of cases of bath salts users, including one in Nesquehoning, where John Eremus, high on the substance and armed, held police at bay for two hours.

Bath salts have no connection to the fragrant powders sold in department stores. They come in small jars containing doses of about a half-teaspoon of white powder. Manufacturers label the jars "Tranquillity", "Blue Silk", "Ivory Wave" and other languid names and peddle them as "bath salts" in order to skirt drug laws. The synthetic marijuana is sold as "incense" for the same reason.

The substances are sold in tattoo parlors, "head shops" and some gas stations and truck stops.

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