State Lawmakers Work to Stay Ahead of Bath Salts

January 13, 2012

The State Senate this week could vote to add more chemical compounds to the list of those that are illegal.  It’s part of an effort to crack down on synthetic cathinones, which are often used to make a product known as “bath salts.”  From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.


MARK BRODIE: Arizona, and other states, have already banned the chemicals that make up bath salts.  The Drug Enforcement Agency has also made it illegal to sell and possess the three main chemicals that comprise the drug.  But, manufacturers can make minor molecular changes, creating a compound that is legal.  State Senator Linda Gray says it’s a challenge to keep up with the chemists.

LINDA GRAY: "There are lots of different compounds that are being sold in convenience stores, gas stations, so because they know it’s not illegal, or DEA has said that it’s illegal but they do not have a lot of people who are here that enforce the law, therefore, we need a state statute banning these."

MARK BRODIE: Hospitals have reported serious medical problems in some people who have consumed the drug.  Dr. Jason Caplan, the Chair of Psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Hospital says he’s seen users become manic and suicidal…he’s also seen cardiac failure.  But, he says the big wave of bath salts appears to be over, so the key is figuring out the next designer drug.

JASON CAPLAN: "My recommendation would be to look at what is happening, and has happened in recent years in Europe. We know from the European experience what the reaction to those drugs is going to be"

MARK BRODIE: Caplan says based on that experience, the next big wave is likely to be a drug called naphyrone, which has been marketed as jewelry or glass cleaner.  This year’s bill would make that illegal.  But, Caplan says it’s already hit the US market.  Senator Linda Gray acknowledges this is a long-term effort.

LINDA GRAY: "We will have to continue this, year after year, as they change the chemical compounds."

MARK BRODIE: Gray says states are starting to work together, to try to stay ahead of the chemical curve.

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