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States beginning to enforce ban on bath salts after high rate of incidents

by Jorge Hernandez on January 28, 2011

Officials in Louisiana and Florida have banned stores from selling bath salts, a form of synthetic cocaine that is currently legal across most of the U.S., after many of the drug's users experienced alarming psychotic and physiological reactions.

"The patients who were showing up with this, they were off the wall. Some of them looked like a true psychotic break," Louisiana Poison Center director Mark Ryan told the Los Angeles Times.

National poison control centers received 235 calls related to the designer drug last year, and have seen 214 incidents over the last month alone.

Several cases have resulted in suicide, kidney failure, seizures and violent behavior towards others. One woman attempted to behead her 71-year-old mother with a machete, while another man who was arrested tore up the back seat of the police cruiser using just his teeth.

Marketed as "concentrated bath salts," the products warn users that they are "not for human consumption" but that they shouldn't be used in conjunction with alcohol or prescription medications, the news source reports. "PLEASE do not use this as SNUFF," the label warns.

Branded under names such as Blue Silk, TranQuility and White Lightning, law enforcement officials say the salts have nothing to do with baths, but that they offer users a similar experience to cocaine, LSD and/or methamphetamines when snorted.

The active ingredient, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (or MDPV) has been listed as a controlled substance in North Dakota and West Virginia since last year, and Mississippi and Kentucky are following their lead, the news source reports.

Consumers can find them online, in convenience stores or in head shops for $25 to $45 a packet.

In Louisiana and Florida, however, the ban is effective immediately and there will be no grace period for those who refuse to comply with the law. The ruling will be enforced for 120 days in Louisiana and 90 days in Florida, but lawmakers are working to make them permanent.

The product has already been banned in the United Kingdom and Ireland, among and other countries.

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