Why are there calls to outlaw bath salts?

They look pretty innocent, don't they?
They look pretty innocent, don't they?

What comes to mind when you hear or see the words, "bath salts"? Are you transported to an oversized soaking tub, your favorite scented candle burning and relaxing music playing? Do you get an overwhelming feeling of calm and peacefulness? Natural bath salts are a therapeutic addition to bath water, and are a welcome part of many people's daily regimen. These bath salts come in a variety of scents and colors, containing nothing more than sea salt and Epsom salt and essential oils. They bring relief to aching muscles, a soothing aroma for your nose and help your skin glow.

However, another product has entered the market in recent years by the same name, but don't be confused. These bath salts are anything but the sweet-smelling stuff you sprinkle in your tub. The "other" bath salts are actually a deadly drug in powder form, created with synthetic stimulants such as mephedrone, MDPV, and methylone. These bath salts are a highly addictive and dangerous drug, which can be snorted, smoked or injected via needles.


Because these bath salts are created in a lab, they're considered to be "designer drugs." So far, it's been extremely difficult for drug agencies to pinpoint where these drugs are being created, and even what the exact formula may be, since varying styles have popped up across the country. The problem for law enforcement has been that bath salts are sold in convenience stores for anyone to purchase. Marketed under the names "Bliss," "Vanilla Sky," and "Zoom," among other innocent-sounding products, the drugs come in inviting packets that look like they belong in any bath and body shop.

So, why the calls to outlaw these bath salts? The labels contain the phrase, "Not fit for human consumption," which has allowed them to pass through government regulation for consumers. If there's a warning for people to not eat these bath salts, what harm can come from them, right? But people who use these drugs know exactly how to consume them, with horrific consequences. Bath salts can cause hallucinations, extreme paranoia, chest pain and increased violence. In recent months, bath salts hallucinations have even been connected to a series of unimaginable crimes.

The hope is that federal regulators will classify bath salts as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has no true medicinal value but a high potential for abuse. The Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 was signed into law in July 2012, banning the drugs at a federal level. This makes all synthetic, designer drugs illegal to both buy and sell.

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  • Air Force Medical Service. "Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012." July 19, 2012 (Aug. 26, 2012). http://www.afms.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123310582
  • Blackwell, Brandon. "Bill outlawing bath salts, herbal incense ready for President Obama's signature." Cleveland Plain Dealer. June 29, 2012. (Aug. 23, 2012) http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/06/bill_banning_bath_salts_herbal.html
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