One local store pulls banned bath salts

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

Local drug agents made the rounds of parish businesses last week to warn against the sale of dangerous chemicals marketed as bath salts before the governor declared them illegal in Louisiana, Capt. Aubrey St. Angelo said.

Only one store, in the south end of the parish, had been marketing the fake bath salts, and the product had been removed from store shelves before Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) Task Force Agents arrived, said St. Angelo, who heads the special unit.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced last week it is now illegal in Louisiana to possess, manufacture or distribute the dangerous chemicals being marketed as “bath salts” or “plant food”; they have been added to the Controlled Dangerous Substance Act.

According to the governor's office:

Since the end of September, Louisiana Poison Control has received 165 calls from people in crisis after snorting, smoking or injecting these dangerous substances. Eighty-five percent of the calls came from emergency room physicians or first responders caring for individuals suffering the traumatic side effects of ingesting these chemicals as drugs.

Though similar crises are being reported across the country, the 165 calls in Louisiana represents nearly 57 percent of all calls recorded nationwide. Further, Louisiana’s reported calls about the drug are seven times higher than the 23 reported in Kentucky, which had the second highest number.

Users of the drugs have treated for extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, hypertension, chest pain and headache. Many reported suicidal thoughts. Law enforcement officials and emergency room doctors have reported violent encounters with those high on the substance.

Under revised statute 40:962, the DHH Secretary and State Health Officer have the authority to add compounds as a Schedule I drug in the controlled dangerous substance act by rule if the substance has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in the U.S. and if there is no accepted safety use of the substance under medical supervision.

In total, there are six chemicals being added to the list of Schedule I drugs. Specifically, the chemicals added by rule are 3,4-Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Methylone), 3,4-Methyenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), 4-Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone), 4-methoxymethcathinone, 4-Fluoromethcathinone and 3-Fluoromethcathinone.

By adding these chemicals to the controlled dangerous substance act as Schedule I drugs, the possession, manufacturing or distribution of these drugs will carry penalties similar to those of heroin, which could mean up to 30 years in prison.

Fake bath salts manufactured in China and India are being sold over the internet, in convenience stores and on the street under the brand names Ivory Wave, Ocean, Charge +, White Lightening, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Red Dove, Cloud-9 and White Dove.

Dr. Rochelle Head-Dunham, medical director of DHH’s Office of Behavioral Health, reminded parents that laws alone are not enough.

“Parents must sit down today with their children and have a very honest and serious discussion about the consequences these drugs – and all illegal drugs have – not just the physical and psychological consequences, but now, the legal consequences,” Head-Dunham said. “We need young people to understand that this isn’t a game.”