June 16, 2011

HARRISBURG, PA  – The Pennsylvania General Assembly has passed a bill to ban the possession, use and sale of so-called bath salts, synthetic marijuana, 2CE and salvia divinorum, addressing the serious concern among Pennsylvania district attorneys that these new and currently legal drugs are developing into the most dangerous drug crisis since methamphetamine labs found their way into Pennsylvania.

Today, the Senate approved S.B. 1006 by a vote of 50 to 0.  The bill, which previously passed the House unanimously, will be sent to the governor for signature.

“These synthetic drugs are posing a significant public safety and public health problem throughout Pennsylvania, right now — today,” said Dauphin County District Attorney Edward. M. Marsico, Jr., who also serves as president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association (PDAA).  “Synthetic drugs came onto the Pennsylvania scene quickly, and it is good to see just how quickly the General Assembly responded.  Our concern was the longer we wait, the more likely kids would die.”

“Synthetic drugs are a serious danger for our young people, the men and women working in law enforcement and our communities,” said Crawford County District Attorney Francis Shultz, who also serves as PDAA vice president.  “This ban on synthetic drugs sends a strong message that Pennsylvania will not stand by as people try to make a profit by endangering the users of these drugs and those around them.”

The sale of synthetic drugs, especially bath salts, and the ripple-effect of incidents around them, has become such a problem that several individual district attorneys have sought local injunctions to ban the sale of these drugs.  Injunctions have been issued in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Centre, Columbia and Schuylkill Counties.

Once signed by Governor Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania will join states such as North Dakota, Florida, New Jersey and Louisiana that have already banned bath salts.  Internationally, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Israel have enacted measures to ban it as well.

Bath salts have nothing to do with spas or baths.  Bath salts are powerful synthetic stimulants designed to be comparable to cocaine or methamphetamine, with similar risksThose who use bath salts feel agitation, paranoia, and/or hallucinate, and often commit violent acts.  The legislation passed today would add the chemical compounds in bath salts to the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances.  In addition to bath salts, the legislation also bans synthetic forms of marijuana often referred to as K2 or Spice, which poses serious public health dangers; 2CE, which is similar to LSD or ecstasy and is already responsible for a teenager’s death in Minnesota; and salvia, which can cause hallucinations.