Bath salts have been made illegal at both the federal and state level, but emergency rooms still see patients suffering from its effects.
The synthetic amphetamine designer drug – previously sold over the counter at gas stations and smoke shops under labels describing the product at bath salts or glass cleaner – gives users side effects such as intense hallucinations, paranoia and rapid heart rates. The drug has also been linked to strokes, suicide and irrational behavior. There has not been any long-term studies to determine what type of damage extended use may cause.
The fake bath salts were previously sold in small packs for much higher prices than real bath salts people use to soak in bath tubs. The labels were marked "not for human consumption," which allowed the designer drug and still allows other designer drugs to be sold over the counter.
Governor Jan Brewer signed emergency legislation Feb. 16 that banned seven specific chemical compounds found in the fake bath salts products. Possession of the synthetic drugs in Arizona is now a class-four felony, and the sale of the drug is a class-two felony.
Unfortunately, as with previous versions of synthetic cannabis called "Spice," manufacturers – especially those in China – can simply alter the chemical compounds slightly to skirt the law. In doing so, the designer drugs remain legal and continue to cause problems to users and society in general.
Stores also continue to sell the drug illegally, and five businesses in Prescott Valley had supplies of bath salts seized in search warrants executed in late February. Officials reported the staff at one of the establishments would also face fraudulent schemes and artifices charges for allowing customers to purchase the drugs under the Food Stamp program.
Woman admitted to hospital after using bath salts
In the early morning hours of March 4, Safford Police were dispatched to the area of Eighth Avenue and Relation Street regarding a woman who was singing in a loud voice.
Authorities encountered Libia Sophia Strong, 31, of Safford, who was extremely paranoid and hard to understand, according to a police report.
Strong claimed she had been beaten up by her boyfriend – identified as Charles – and that she had been hit in the head with a hammer. Officers could not see any signs of injury to Strong, and a friend soon arrived and said Strong had been in a verbal dispute with her boyfriend but there was no physical altercation.
Officers interviewed Strong's boyfriend – whose name is not Charles. He said Strong began to act wild because he looked at another woman and accused him of hitting her in the head with a hammer and beating her six years ago. The boyfriend said that couldn't have happened because he has only known Strong for the past six months. The boyfriend denied hitting Strong and said the couple had only been drinking alcohol.
Strong retired for the night at her friend's apartment, but less than an hour later at 1:50 a.m., authorities and paramedics were called to the apartment because Strong was "freaking out" and having seizures.
Authorities located Strong topless on a mattress. The report states she was thrashing around and screaming and shaking like she was having a seizure while continuing to scream.
As she was being prepared to be transported to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, Strong allegedly admitted to having used the synthetic drug bath salts. Once Strong was at the hospital, she continued to behave irrationally and yell that the hospital staff were breaking her arms and legs, according to the report.