Braunstein Introduces Bill to Ban Dangerous “Bath Salt” Drugs in New York

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) and Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R-C-IP-Rome) announced the introduction of A.4769-A/S.3322 – new legislation which would ban the sale, manufacturing, possession, and distribution of so-called “bath salts” in New York State. These “bath salts,” which are smoked, snorted or injected, are actually a dangerous series of chemicals similar to methamphetamines, which cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, agitation, hypertension, chest pain, headaches, heart attack, stroke, and suicidal thoughts.

These dangerous “bath salts,” which have been labeled as a drug of concern by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, are sold online and in convenience stores and smoke shops under many names, including Bliss, Bolivian Bath, Hurricane Charlie, Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Tranquility, Vanilla Sky, White Lightning, White Rush, and Zoom. In New York State, “bath salts” have recently been found for sale at stores in Manhattan and near the State Capitol in Albany.

Just as products such as K2 and Spice “incense” are marketed as legal alternatives to marijuana, these products marketed as “bath salts” or “plant food” are perceived as legal alternatives to cocaine, LSD and methamphetamines.

“This issue came to my attention last month when I read reports about violent incidents taking place in several Southern states which were committed by people having hallucinations after using ‘bath salts.’ One incident took place in Louisiana, when a 21-year-old man cut his throat and shot himself to death. And in Mississippi, a tragedy occurred when a sheriff’s deputy was murdered by a man allegedly under the influence of bath salts. This legislation would ban these dangerous chemicals before the problem becomes widespread in New York. I look forward to working together with Senator Griffo to pass our legislation which would protect all New Yorkers from the scourge of these dangerous meth-like drugs,” Assemblyman Braunstein said.

“These so-called ‘bath salts’ are not the same as aromatic bath salts. They contain a potentially lethal mix of synthetic drugs and serve no purpose other than to get the user high. Our legislation would ban these dangerous substances so we may help keep our young people safe and give our law enforcement the authority to rid our State of these dangerous drugs,” Senator Griffo said.

“As Senator Griffo stated, these ‘bath salts’ are not the same as aromatic bath salts. Bed Bath & Beyond confirmed to me that none of the products that they sell contain any of the dangerous chemicals that our legislation would ban,” Assemblyman Braunstein said.

A.4769-A would add six chemical compounds to the State’s list of Schedule I drugs, thereby classifying each as a controlled substance. Controlled substances are defined as those that have a high potential for abuse and addiction. The legislation would add the following chemicals as Schedule I drugs:

  • 3,4-Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Methylone)
  • 2,4- Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)
  • 4-Methoxymethcathinone
  • 4-Methylmethcathinone (Medphedrone)
  • 4- Fluoromethcathinone
  • 3- Fluoromethcathinone

“Bath salts” can contain one or more of the above-listed chemicals and a person found possessing, manufacturing, or distributing any of these substances would face a class C felony for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

The Upstate New York Poison Center has already taken five calls related to the abuse of “bath salts” this year, but there may be additional cases related to “bath salts” that have not yet been recognized as such.

Nationwide, United States poison centers have taken 251 calls regarding “bath salts” this year alone, compared to 236 calls in all of 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

According to the Associated Press, at least one woman overdosed and one man shot himself, both allegedly under the influence of “bath salts.” Other media reports include a host of violent behaviors while under the influence of these substances as well as an increase in emergency room visits due to people suffering trauma after taking the drugs.

New York would be following Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota in banning the sale of the chemical substances that make up “bath salts” and there is currently pending legislation in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. Senator Charles E. Schumer has also introduced legislation to ban these chemicals on the federal level and said that these “bath salts” contain ingredients “that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics.” These chemicals are already banned in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Israel.