Police and medical professionals in Maine say use of “bath salts” is becoming an epidemic. They have witnessed a growing number of people acting strangely—and dangerously—while under the influence of the synthetic drugs.
The drugs first appeared in Bangor, where police respond to one to three calls a day involving bath salts. The problem has since quickly spread throughout the state, the Bangor Daily News reports.
Rockland Police Sergeant Don Finnegan said people using bath salts can experience severe delusions and paranoia, which sometimes leads them to pick up weapons.
The state outlawed bath salts in July. People caught with the drug are issued a civil offense, and dealers face a misdemeanor charge, the article notes. Governor Paul LePage wants to increase bath salts penalties. While many states have banned them, bath salts can still be bought online.
Earlier this month, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it is temporarily banning three synthetic stimulants sold as bath salts. The ban makes it illegal to possess and sell these chemicals or the products that contain them.
Bath salts are marketed under names such as “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Vanilla Sky” or “Bliss.” The drugs mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy and/or methamphetamine.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, calls to poison centers about exposures to bath salts has dramatically increased, from a total of 303 last year to 4,137 in the first seven months of 2011.
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