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Feds Say Bath Salts Are Not Suitable For Humans

Fearing a growing mass of violent, paranoid, tweaked young people all punching out windows, arming themselves with butcher knives and guns and furiously clawing their flesh with recklessly super-human abandon, the Drug Enforcement Administration has...

Fearing a growing mass of violent, paranoid, tweaked young people all punching out windows, arming themselves with butcher knives and guns and furiously clawing their flesh with recklessly super-human abandon, the Drug Enforcement Administration has instated a temporary ban on three synthetic stimulants used to cook up bath salts, those powder or crystal products sold at head shops and on the internet under such enticing labels as White Lightning, Vanilla Sky, Hurricane Charlie and Ivory Wave.

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Mephedrone, 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and methylone will be classified Schedule I substances for at least the next year, according to the DEA's
statement. The agency will look into whether or not the designer ingredients, which mimic the psychostimulant effects of cocaine and methamphetamine (and are akin to “meth on crack”, according to one Juggalo) and in certain cases share properties with khat, an organic stimulant native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, should be banned permanently.

To date, 37 states have already hastened legislation controlling or prohibiting the manufacture and sale of bath salts. And the DEA's full-throttled scheduling, says administrator Michele M. Leonhart, "demonstrates our commitment to keeping our streets safe from these and other new and emerging drugs that have decimated families, ruined lives, and caused havoc in communities across the country." These temporarily forbidden substances pose substantial threats "regardless of how they're marketed," Leonhart adds, spurring the DEA to "aggressively pursue those who attempt their manufacture and sale."

So, all the idiots running around snorting, mainlining or producing this crap are now among the hunted. I want to say I back this. I really, really want to. Bath salts are really, really stupid.

Be it in Pennsylvania, where earlier this year some raging salter stabbed a priest after storming a monastery, or Maine, where NPR reports bath salts usage reaching epidemic proportions, synthetic stimulants are not only frying brains at potentially irreparable degrees. They're stretching thin already strapped police and medical resources: At one medical center in Bangor, NPR claims, as many as eight people turn up every day high on salts, gurney-bound and shrieking.

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Yet, per usual, it's probably just as foolish to think the DEA's fast-tracked forbiddance poses any sort of threat to all the nation's Hurricane Charlie's or Ivory Waves. If history is any indicator, that mephedrone, MPDV and methylone are now illegal we must live with the no-brainer reality that because they've been driven firmly underground there are profit incentives already ensuring that bath salts are reconfigured into the steroidal variants of their former selves. Shane Heathers, an addict profiled by NPR, says the black market "alternatives" will hit the streets soon enough. "There's more in the laboratory that they're trying to synthesize."

The whole situation is incontrovertibly tricky and terrible and tragic. Good on the Feds for calling for more research into this junk. At the same time, it may be dawn on the bleak salt flats.

Dear Every Potential User's Common Sense: Please win this one.

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Reach this writer at brian@motherboard.tv.