Wisconsin public health officials have issued warnings about an alarming new trend in drug experimentation that is appearing in the state: people are beginning to inject, snort and smoke bath salts in an effort to simulate the high that usually comes from drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. The bath salts are legal and sold in gas stations, adult book stores and head shops. The substance is not actually put into the bathtub, but is merely labeled as such. Manufacturers market the products under the names of Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Cloud Nine, Blue Silk, Purple Wave, Snow Leopard and Ocean Snow. The packages often state that the contents are plant food or that they not for human consumption.
The bath salts contain the chemicals mephedrone and MDPV, which are similar to cathinone, a potent Schedule I stimulant. Ingesting the chemicals in bath salts causes effects such as rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, paranoia, agitation, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and violent behavior. The substances can be addictive and the effects of the chemicals can last for several hours, depending on how and how much of the bath salt a person ingests.
The use of bath salts seems to have begun in the South and moved north, with Louisiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma reporting 200 emergency room cases of poisoning from bath salts and Illinois seeing 79 cases, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. So far, Wisconsin has five reported cases of poisoning from bath salts but police officers report that use of the product has been on the rise.
Doctors say that there is no way to test to see if a patient has taken bath salts, so the only way that medical professionals know if a person has taken them is if the patient reports it. This makes treating someone who has been poisoned by bath salts particularly challenging.
What currently worries law enforcement personnel and medical professionals is that bath salts are legal. The Wisconsin legislature is currently considering a bill to outlaw possessing or selling them. Thirteen other states have already passed similar legislation. While bath salts are still legal, however, police are monitoring the sale and use of them very carefully.
The penalties for drug possession and drug dealing are severe. If you are facing drug crime allegations, actively protect your rights and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney.