Update: The ban has made a significant difference in designer drug incidents.
In a wave of legislation crossing the country, New Jersey might be the next state to ban what’s commonly sold as “bath salts” but is described as some to be a synthetic drug more dangerous than methamphetamines. Both the state Senate and Assembly are drafting bills to make this ban a reality.
According to the Star Ledger there have been cases of suicide, self mutilation, and even murder related in recent months to the use of bath salts across the country.
Locally, a senior at Rutgers University is alleged to have been murdered by her mentally ill boyfriend who had been using the salts recently. The suspect’s mother has spoken out in recent days, not in defense of her son, rather to warn others about the dangers of these easily accessible substances.
Assembly Deputy Speaker John McKeon states, “The recent tragedy is deadly proof of the devastation that can be caused when dangerous drugs are masqueraded as bath salts and are openly available to the public, especially our youth who are the highest users of such hallucinogenic substances.”
The suspect in that particular case has now been charged with murder after the body of his girlfriend was found in his basement. According to his mother, he had battled bipolar disorder for years and had most recently been experiencing high levels of paranoia she attributed to his use of “bath salts”.
Experts, though no names are mentioned, state that these salts are highly dangerous. Though there is no clinical evidence, the experts claim they are far more dangerous than many controlled substances already banned by law.
The proposed legislation would make it a crime in the 3rd degree to possess, manufacture, or distribute either of the two active chemical compounds found in the products. This means those found in violation of the law would face a potential 3 to 5 years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
Currently, “bath salts” can be found easily at convenience stores and “head shops”. The Star-Ledger reportedly found clerks willing to discuss which varieties were strongest when selling the substances.
A quick search on a news source reveals similar legislation being passed and proposed across the country, to go after so called synthetic drugs. Just this week, North Carolina lawmakers moved to ban bath salts and the synthetic marijuana K2 or “spice”.
These kind of substances are particularly alluring to young people. They offer a quick, cheap, and at least for now, a legal high. But if the dangers are real and not an anomaly, perhaps removing them from the shelves is a good idea.
This legislation, once drafted, is likely to pass. In the meantime, however, if you are caught in possession of any controlled substance, you need the assistance of a local criminal defense attorney. Contact my offices today to discuss the specifics of your case.