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Harsh crackdown on bath salts

Law enforcement agencies in many parts of North Carolina are engaged in a crackdown on the sale of bath salts. Engaging in drug trafficking can result in individuals facing serious criminal charges. Yet, given the recent changes in the legal status of substances known as bath salts, many may not be entirely clear on what is legal and what is not. Because recent media and publicity has given bath salts a bad reputation, law enforcement agencies are increasingly focused on finding and arresting those who use or sell them.

Bath salts were often distributed from locations such as convenience stores and tobacco shops in packets. The substances, often manufactured and packaged in China or India, usually were labeled in a manner making it clear that they were not to be consumed or ingested by people. However, they were often used by people seeking a legal "high."

Users claimed that the substances gave effects similar to that of methamphetamine, ecstasy, or cocaine. Law enforcement agencies say that the use of bath salts can result in wildly delusional behavior and a feeling of franticness. In a number of instances, they claim, the use of bath salts has been associated with violent acts.

Three major chemical ingredients widely used in many bath salt products were criminalized by the U.S. government in 2011. Many manufacturers and sellers of bath salts, however, responded by changing the ingredients used in the products. Some products sold under this label may technically be legal, but they are nonetheless often sold "under the counter" by store clerks who believe them to be of dubious legality.

Bath salts and synthetic marijuana use have led to a number of poisoning incidents, with 3,200 calls reported nationwide in 2010 concerning their use mushrooming to over 13,000 calls the following year. In approximately 60 percent of the cases, people taking the drugs were 25 years old or younger.

Source: Gaston Gazette, "Dirty business defies bath salt laws," Diane Turbyfill, Aug. 3, 2012

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