"Bath salt" drugs still legal in Maryland

Designer drugs marketed as bath salts have been receiving much attention in the media lately. Not intended for soaking in the bath, these white, powdery drugs contain powerful stimulants that produce a high similar to meth when smoked, snorted or injected. While some states have declared these drugs illegal, Maryland is not one of them.

The bath salts are sold in certain retail stores and over the Internet. They are packaged with names such as Ivory Wave, Purple Wave, Vanilla Sky and Bliss. While the names are peaceful, the drugs are believed to be dangerous. These drugs can cause some users to experience hallucinations, paranoia, violence, delusions and even suicidal thoughts.

The bath salts contain synthetic stimulant MDPV and mephedrone, chemicals which are not controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) nor approved for human consumption by the Food and Drug Administration. The chemicals mimic the effects of cocaine, Ecstasy, LSD and meth.

The drugs are apparently so toxic that many users call poison control centers for help. Across the country, poison control centers have received 373 calls this year, up from 291 calls last year. However, Maryland Poison Control Center has only received two calls in connection with the bath salts this year. Maryland authorities believe this means the bath salts are not widely sold in our state.

At this point, Maryland has not experienced a considerable problem with the bath salts. However, Wicomico County’s Drug Task Force, a law enforcement unit composed of members from the Maryland State Police, Sheriff’s Office, Salisbury Police Department and Fruitland Police department, is preparing for the drugs to appear in the region. However, it is important to understand that as of now, these substances are not illegal in Maryland.

Currently, the DEA is collaborating with health officials to study data about the stimulants in the bath salts. Congress has drafted a bill that would add the chemicals found in the bath salts to the list of federally controlled substances. We will likely see more about this drug in the months to come.

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