On July 22, 2011 Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a law that made it illegal to possess or distribute the synthetic drug called bath salts. Illinois was the eleventh state to make the drug illegal. Methylenedioxypyrovalerone; known as MDPV, or on the street as bath salts, was previously sold in convenient marts and tobacco stores and you only had to be eighteen years old to buy it. This drug gives a hallucinogenic high similar to methamphetamine or ecstasy and is very deadly and addictive even after only one use. It can also produce hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and psychotic behavior. Bath salts can be abused through snorting, injecting, ingesting or smoking. The side effects include agitation, paranoia and chest pains, high heart rate, high blood pressure, and overheating which can all lead to death. “The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported more than 3,740 bath salt related calls to their centers between January and July 2011. That's more than ten times the calls they fielded relating to the substances in all of 2010.”
When people first began coming into the emergency rooms high on bath salts, the doctors and medical professional were at a loss because they had no idea what it was or what they were dealing with. There were no tests to test for bath salts to find out what these people, who were coming into the emergency rooms by the dozens, were on. These individuals were described at psychotic, wacky, off the wall, and completely out of touch with reality. Mark Ryan Director of the Poison Control Center in Louisiana states:
There are intense hallucinations. Voices. Paranoia. We've seen a number of cases in which people have started shooting their house because they can't get rid of the voices. There was one report where the man was barricaded in the attic with a gun because he thought there were monsters downstairs. He said he would kill them before they had a chance to attack his family. Another who cut himself up trying to "remove the wires" from his arms. It's not unusual for them to start seeing demons, aliens, for them to believe law enforcement is after them -- that armies are coming to harm them. It's intense paranoia. A fear that things around them -- even people they know or love -- are going to try to hurt them.
The possession of bath salts is now a felony offense. Bath salts are now considered a controlled substance, which carries a minimum penalty of a Class 4 felony for which the offender can be sentenced to a 1 to 3 year prison sentence and also be forced to pay a fine of up to $25,000. By marketing them as bath salts and labeling them 'not for human consumption, they have been able to avoid them being specifically seen as illegal. State law makers in Maine have banned 21 components of the drug to date and are working to federally ban the main three components. By altering just one molecule it changes the name and that is how manufacturers and stores are getting away with still producing and selling the drug. Law enforcement officials are definitely going to have their hands full trying to keep this drug off the streets and dealing with people who are high on it going crazy and committing crimes.