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AG Kilmartin and Department of Health Announce the Chemicals Used in "Bath Salts” Now Under Federal Control and Regulation

Department of Health Initiates Process to Regulate in Rhode Island

Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Michael Fine, MD, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) today announced that the chemicals used in "Bath Salts” are now under federal control and regulation.

Please note: Traditional bath salts, such as Epsom salts and other bath and beauty products, do not contain the chemicals that are now under federal regulation. The newly-regulated chemicals are found in products with the street name “bath salts” and “plant food” and are often sold in head shops, smoke shops, some convenience stores and online.

Earlier today, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA exercised its emergency scheduling authority to control three synthetic stimulants (Mephedrone, 3,4 methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and Methylone) used to make products marketed as “bath salts” and “plant food.” Except as authorized by law, this action makes possessing and selling these chemicals, or the products that contain them, illegal in the United States. The DEA formally published the announcement in the Federal Register.

Under the Rhode Island Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Article 21-28-2.01(2)c, the publication of such notice in the Federal Register and notice to HEALTH will start the 60-day period to regulate these substances under state law as well.

Through the DEA’s emergency scheduling authority, these chemicals will be controlled for at least 12 months, with the possibility of a six month extension. They are designated as Schedule I substances, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I status is reserved for those substances with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted use for treatment in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision.

“Rarely does a new drug come on the market that has such devastating and damaging effects as ‘bath salts’ have in the United States,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “The designation of the compounds as Schedule I controlled substances will get this dangerous and deadly product off the shelves and give our law enforcement personnel the tools they need to effectively go after those who illegally sell and distribute the product.”

“Nationally, bath salt abuse has led to increased emergency room visits, violence, and death,” said Director of Health Michael Fine, MD. “The federal ban on these dangerous unregulated substances will help Rhode Island address the serious public health consequences of substance abuse which injures and kills too many Rhode Islanders and impacts too many Rhode Island families.”

These bath salts, which are sold under names such as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," Vanilla Sky," and "Bliss," are used as recreational drugs, being injected, snorted or smoked.

Medical authorities have stated that psychological side effects include extreme anxiety and paranoia, delusional thinking, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Physical side effects include dramatically increased blood pressure and heart rates, and chest pains so severe some users feared they were dying. Moreover, the drug poses new risks for law enforcement in subduing those under the influence of bath salts.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported that in 2010 poison control centers took 303 calls about bath salts. However, in the first seven months of 2011, poison control centers had received more than 4,000 calls related to these products.

Since the drugs made their debut on American soil in January 2011, 37 states have banned the sale of bath salts, either through legislation, emergency orders of designated agencies, or by executive order.

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