What’s up with the bath salts thing? An explanation of sorts.


Source: Shutterstock

There has been a recent flurry of press coverage related to the use and abuse of “bath salts.” This post is a summary of information coming to the PIC Library staff from various channels.

One thing to understand, is that these are not the Epsom salts or cosmetic bath salts that we normally think of (so please kids, don’t go getting any funny ideas). These products are said to contain either mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) or MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) or both.

They are synthetic stimulants with reported hallucinogenic properties (“designer drugs”) packaged  and marketed as bath salts to avoid attention and FDA regulation.  Products are sold in little packets online and convenience retail stores with names such as Cloud 9, Ivory Wave, Ocean, Charge Plus, White Lightning, Scarface, Hurricane Charlie, Red Dove and White Dove (reference).

In fact in a recent statement by Jay Ansell, Vice President, Cosmetics Program, Personal Care Products Council, the difference has been described in an effort to protect the reputation of “real bath salts”:

“Two designer drugs, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), are being sold over the Internet as “research chemicals,” “plant food” or “bath salts.”… These fake products have nothing to do with real bath salts made by reputable health, cosmetic and personal care products companies…Designer drugs like these are created specifically to get around existing drug laws, as in the case of the cannabis substitute Spice, sold as an exotic incense blend…”

Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant with a long history, that was banned across Europe in December 2010 and has gained recent attention from several US local, state, and federal agencies. Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)  has been around for a shorter time.  Both substances are said to be structurally related to cathinone, an active alkaloid found in the khat plant.

According to an email forward we received originating from Barbara Ryan, of the SilverGate Group:

  • MDPV and mephedrone are both stimulants with action similar to amphetamines.  Thus they appear to carry risk of addiction and complications from stimulant use including heart rate and blood pressure increases. The drugs appear to be most commonly snorted, but may also be smoked or even injected.
  • As of now, these two drugs are not controlled by the DEA.  Thus, as long as they are not sold for human consumption, they are legal to buy and possess in states where bans have not been put in place (including Colroado).
  • The ONDCP has issued a statement about these drugs, and it appears that the DEA is studying them as well.
  • There are no research studies on the effects of these drugs on humans, and thus their true risks are unknown. Also, there are no reliable estimates available about prevalence of their use, either on or off college campuses. While use is probably very low right now, the current media attention being given to this class of drug may spark interest.
  • The public should be educated that these are potent drugs and their legal status in no way implies that they are safe.
  • There are numerous accounts of hospitalizations from these drugs.
  • Also, it’s important that everyone understand that snorting actual bath salts is not what is happening. Misunderstanding this may lead to some rather ugly poisoning cases as misinformed young people attempt to get high with the wrong type of product.  Again, it does not appear that these drugs were ever truly manufactured as a bath salt. They are sold by the gram in smoke shops, not by the pound in bath and body stores.

Colorado statewide medication disposal day: 9/25/10

Source: email distribution list, 8/4/2010

From Beverly Gmerek, Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator:

We are pleased to announce that the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention program, Rx Drugs Not Yours Not Safe, a program of Peer Assistance Services, Inc. is partnering with the Colorado Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office in hosting a statewide medication disposal day on September 25, 2010. This is part of DEA’s National Pharmaceutical Take-Back Day occurring in communities across the country.

  • This is an opportunity to make a difference in your community and safely dispose of old medications in an environmentally-friendly way.
  • The DEA will be working with local law enforcement officials to collect and dispose of the medications
  • The DEA will cover all the expenses related to the proper disposal and destruction.
  • In 2008, 562 Coloradans died from abuse of prescription drugs, three times more than those who died in drunken driving-related crashes (173) the same year.
  • 20% to 30% of high school students report using prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them; the mostly obtained from friends and family medicine cabinets.

DEA has invited all Colorado sheriff departments, police departments and drug task forces to participate.  The deadline for registering to participate is August 11, 2010. Please contact your local law enforcement agency and let them know how important it is that they participate and your ability to be of assistance.

What an ideal time to educate your community about the dangers of abusing medications and how to properly safeguard them.

Here is how we can help you:

  • The RxDrugsNotYoursNotSafe.org site will have downloadable posters and fact sheets soon.
  • Locations of all the disposal sites will be listed on the site as they become available.
  • Please join our NEW Face book page Rx Drugs Not Yours Not Safe for the most up to date information about this event.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention program is a State Priority Initiative funded by the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

And thank you for making a difference!

Beverly Gmerek
Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator

Other resources:

Free Research Forum on Adolescents and Co-Occuring Disorders, 7/15

The next free Division of Behavioral Health Research Forum will be held Thursday, July 15, 2010 from 8:30 am  – 12:00 pm on “Colorado’s Guidelines for Treatment of Adolescent Co-Occuring Disorders; Implementation Process”.  Please see the attached brochure for more details including registration information.

Click here to see the DBH Research Forum Brochure.

Colorado DBH Prevention Health Communications, In the News for April 9, 2010

Source: DBH email, 4/9/2010

Attached is the April 9, 2010 edition of the DBH Prevention Community Programs, Prevention Health Communications, In the News and Resources weekly.

In the News is a collection of hyperlinks to current prevention articles, broadcasts, reports, press releases, funding announcements, conferences and events, training and more that are relevant to the prevention and reduction of the use of alcohol and other drugs.

Click here to access Prevention Health Communications, In the News and Resources weekly, 4/9/10 (pdf)

March 2nd SAMHSA National Methamphetamine Webinar on LGBT Log-in Information

Source: SAMHSA email 2/25/10

LGBT Populations and Meth: Updates for Addressing Challenges and Maximizing Opportunities

Date and Time: 3/2/2010 – 12:00pm to 1:30 pm (Mountain)
The LGBT Populations and Methamphetamine Webinar will include updates on research, treatment, and efforts on state and territory levels to address challenges and identify opportunities for work with LGBT populations around methamphetamine and substance abuse. Highlights will include an overview of data and research issues; results of a national survey regarding availability and accessibility of LGBT substance abuse services; research summary regarding substance abuse trends among gay men and non-gay identified men who have sex with men; information about Getting Off: A Behavioral Treatment Intervention For Gay and. Bisexual Male Methamphetamine Users; unique issues surrounding substance abuse and transgender individuals including barriers for services and research and recommendations; an overview of substance abuse and lesbian and bisexual women including barriers and recommendations; and an examination of psycho-cultural conditions for LGBT individuals and substance abuse.

Webinar Details

This webinar will provide both an online presentation and telephone audio.  We recommend that you log on to the webinar at least 5 minutes prior to the scheduled start time.  Please note that to participate in the web presentation you may be prompted to download software.  To ensure full access to both the web presentation and telephone audio, please follow the directions below:

To Join The Web Presentation

1. Go to https://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join/

2. Enter Log-in Information (below)
3. Click “Start Now”.
4. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Meeting #: PW1746984
Passcode: 7892434

Audio Dial-in Information

Dial-in: 800-369-3338
Passcode: 7892434#

Colorado HB 1352: Concerning Changes to Crimes Involving Controlled Substances

The following is a legislative summary of HB10-1352, a drug sentencing reform bill.  The summary is from The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC), a group that helped develop the bill as part of the drug policy taskforce of  the  Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justivce.

Click here for recent news on HB 1352 from Google.
Click here to see legislative tracking information for HB10-1352

Source:  CCJRC email, 2/24/10

HB 1352: Concerning Changes to Crimes Involving Controlled Substances
Sponsors: Representative Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) and Senators Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) with cosponsors Representatives Pace (D-Pueblo), Court (D-Denver), Gardner B. (R-Colorado Springs), Gerou (R-Jefferson County), Kagan (D-Denver), King S. (R-Grand Junction), Levy (D-Boulder), Looper (R-El Paso), Massey (R-Poncha Springs), May (R-Douglas), McCann (D-Denver), Miklosi (D-Denver), Nikkel (R-Loveland), Roberts (R-Durango), Ryden (D-Arapahoe), Stephens (R-Colorado Springs) and Senators M. Carroll (D-Aurora), Hudak (D-Jefferson), Morse (D-Colorado Springs), Newell (D-Littleton), Penry (R-Grand Junction), White (R-Garfield/Eagle).

This drug sentencing reform bill is based on recommendations approved by the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice. After reviewing the drug laws, practices, and research, the Commission concluded that drug laws and strategies would be improved by more clearly differentiating between those drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts from the more serious offenders who engage in the crimes of distribution, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs.

For those drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts, the Commission determined that intervention and treatment in the community would be a more effective use of resources than the current escalating system of punishment that often results in a prison sentence. For these offenders, it was recognized that the current structure and approach to prosecuting these drug crimes is frequently ineffective in reducing recidivism and curbing addiction and that a primary omission from current law is a means of assuring prompt and effective treatment of drug offenders.

The Commission also determined that penalties for several drug distribution offenses should be increased and that two provisions of the special drug offender statute should be clarified.

What the Bill Does:

Drug possession offenses

  • Creates a separate statute for the crime of possession of drugs.
  • Reduces the crime of drug use from a class 6 felony to a misdemeanor
  • Redefines the quantity of drugs that is considered “simple possession” from 1 gram or less to 4 grams or less of a schedule I or II drug   and 2 grams or less of methamphetamine. “Simple possession” would be a class 6 felony.
  • Standardizes that possession for personal use of amounts greater than “simple possession” quantities is a class 4 felony.
  • Reduces possession of schedule III-V drugs (i.e. prescription drugs) to a misdemeanor.
  • Reduces the penalty for fraud and deceit in connection with controlled substances from a class 5 to a class 6 felony.
  • Requires cost savings from this bill to be evaluated annually by the division of criminal justice and reported to the legislature and that some of the cost savings will be allocated to expand and enhance substance abuse treatment.

If there is evidence that even small quantities of drugs are possessed with the intent to distribute, prosecutors can still file a criminal charge of drug distribution at any quantity of drugs.

Offenses related to marijuana

  • Redefines the quantity of marijuana possession that determines crime classifications at various levels including possession of under 2 ounces (petty offense), possession of between 2 – 6 ounces (class 2 misdemeanor), possession of between 6-12 ounces (class 1 misdemeanor), and possession of over 12 ounces (class 6 felony).
  • Redefines the quantity of marijuana concentrate possession that determines crime classification at various levels including possession of under 3 ounces (class 1 misdemeanor) and possession of over 3 ounces (class 6 felony).
  • Creates a graduated penalty for marijuana cultivation including cultivation of less than 6 plants (class 1 misdemeanor), cultivation of between 7-29 plants (class 5 felony) and cultivation of 30 or more plants (class 4 felony).

Increasing penalties for drug distribution

  • Creates a new crime of distribution of schedule I or II drugs by an adult to a minor (class 3 felony) and if the adult is more than 2 years older than the minor, imposes a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
  • Increases the crime level to a class 3 felony and imposes a mandatory minimum prison sentence for distribution (even without remuneration) of marijuana or marijuana concentrate by an adult to a minor less than 15 years old.
  • Increases the crime classification for distribution of ketamine (aka “date rape drug”) to a class 3 felony.

Clarifies two provisions within the Special Offender drug law (enhanced sentencing 8-48 years)

  • Requires the quantity of drugs to be greater than the “simple possession” amount to be considered importation of drugs into the state.
  • Enhances sentences when a deadly weapon is on a defendant’s person or his within immediate reach, when a firearm is within the defendant’s or confederate’s access in a manner that posed a risk to others or when a firearm is in a vehicle the defendant was occupying.

Colo. Sentencing Reform Bill Has Bipartisan Support

Source: JoinTogether News Summary, 2/24/10

A bill that would cut sentences for drug offenses and put more money into addiction treatment programs has support from both sides of the aisle in the Colorado statehouse.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported Feb. 23 that the bill from Rep. Mark Waller would make most drug-possession and drug-use crimes either misdemeanors or minor felonies. Some of the money saved due to less incarceration of drug offenders would be used to fund addiction-treatment programs. The legislation was the result of a series of sentencing-reform discussions sponsored by the state’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

Waller, a Republican and former prosecutor, has won support for HB-1352 from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, most GOP lawmakers, and some influential Democratic leaders. “This isn’t something the Democrats can do alone because they don’t want to appear soft on crime,” Waller said.

Click here to see legislative tracking information for HB10-1352