PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal Newsline) - On Wednesday, Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin requested that the state's Department of Health place the main chemicals in the drug known as "bath salts" on the list of Schedule I drugs.
This action would make the drug illegal to sell, distribute or possess in the state of Rhode Island. Bath salts -- which come in powder and crystal form and are sold in many convenience stores and smoke shops with names such as "Purple Wave," "Ivory Wave," "Vanilla Sky" and "Bliss" -- are used as recreational drugs, and are snorted, injected or smoked. Bath salts contain the manufactured chemicals methylone, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, which cause a cocaine- or methamphetamine-like high.
Medical authorities say that the psychological side effects include delusional thinking, extreme anxiety, paranoia and visual and auditory hallucinations. The physical side effects include dramatically increased heart rates and blood pressure along with severe chest pains. The drug may also pose 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, the centers took 303 bath salts-related calls, but in the first seven months of 2011, the centers received more than 4,000 calls related to these products.
"I believe these dangerous drugs pose an imminent and severe hazard to the health, safety and welfare of Rhode Island citizens," Kilmartin said. "One of the most effective means of curtailing abuse of a substance is to designate it as a controlled substance under law and provide penalties for persons who manufacture, distribute, sell or possess the controlled substance.
"Department of Health designation of the compounds marketed as bath salts as Schedule I controlled substances will immediately get this dangerous and deadly product off our streets and give our law enforcement personnel the tools they need to effectively go after those who illegally sell and distribute the product."
Twenty-nine states have banned the sale of bath salts, either through legislation, emergency orders of designated agencies or by executive order since the drugs made their debut on American soil in January.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration invoked its "emergency scheduling authority" to control these synthetic stimulants in September and plans to make possessing and selling the chemicals found in bath salts illegal in the United States.
The emergency action will remain in effect for at least one year, during which time the government is expected to call for permanent control of the drugs. Under the Rhode Island Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Article 21-28-2.01(2)c, the director of health has the authority to control any substance if it is controlled under federal law.
"It is vital we all focus on this emerging threat and take immediate steps to curtail its spread any further," Kilmartin said. "As such, I encourage the department of health to take appropriate and swift action in banning the sale and distribution of bath salts in Rhode Island."