ALBANY, N.Y. (AP/CBSNewYork) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the federal government to ban new designer drugs known as bath salts that are legal in many states even though they pack as much punch as cocaine or methamphetamines.
The small, inexpensive packets of powder are meant to be snorted for a hallucination-inducing high, but they are often marketed with a wink on the Internet or in convenience stores as bathing salts or plant food.
“It’s sort of different than smelling an aerosol can because an aerosol can has a legitimate purpose. There are no legitimate purposes to these drugs. They are not bath salts. They are not plant food,” Schumer said.
A handful of states have already banned the active ingredients in the powders, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.
The drugs also have nicknames like Tranquility, Zoom and White Lightning and Hurricane Charlie, said Schumer, who added that the drugs are being sold at convenient stores, smoke shops and online.
“They’re released by snorting, smoking or injecting the powder, which produces a deadly high with the same effect on the body as cocaine or methamphetamines,” Schumer said.
The Democratic senator is announcing a bill Sunday that would add those chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances.
“They’re made for one thing and one thing only: to get a cheap, quick and often dangerous high,” Schumer said.
Some experts say the drugs can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts.
“These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country,” Schumer said.
“The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in,” he said.
Poison control centers in several states have reported a surge in reports of bad reactions to the drugs.
Schumer said some of the packets range from as low as $14 to as high as $40.
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