A new type of drug is receiving the attention of law enforcement agencies throughout Pennsylvania. Commonly referred to as "bath salts", these drugs are actually synthetic creations designed to mimic the effects of other drugs, such as marijuana. These synthetic drugs are sold in stores and online, and have become very popular nationwide.
During the 2011 legislative session, Governor Tom Corbett signed a bill that made many bath salts illegal to possess and sell. The bill highlighted six compounds that makers of the drugs frequently used, and any bath salt that contained any one of these ingredients would qualify as a banned substance. To prevent being charged with a Pennsylvania drug crime, many of the designers simply changed the way they made their specific drugs.
This has led to widespread confusion for those who have to enforce these laws, and also for those who have been charged with a crime. It can be difficult for a person to know that something he or she purchases in a legitimate business is a controlled substance.
In an effort to stem the sales of these designer drugs, police have been aggressively raiding local businesses. However, the drugs that are being confiscated may not be banned by the current bath salt law that is in effect. Unless one of the specifically listed compounds is used in the manufacturing of the drug, there is no law that restricts their sale.
Business owners charged with possessing or distributing these drugs may have options. Prosecutors are very aggressive with these cases because of the negative attention that bath salts have received.
The law will continue to adapt, meaning that one substance that is legal today could potentially be illegal in the future. Since the drugs are constantly changing the ingredients, it might be difficult for officials to create a law that adequately addresses the issue.
Source: WJACTV "6 News Investigation: New wave of bath salts." Gary Sinderson and WJAC Web Staff, Feb. 23, 2012.