Considering bath salts may be more addictive than meth, the U.S. really wants to take control of the growing trend. Unfortunately, getting these drugs off the streets has given the legal system quite a headache.
To land a conviction for dealing bath salts, prosecutors have to prove they’re chemically similar to substances outlawed by the Controlled Substances Act. But as a synthetic drug, bath salts are created in labs with innumerable chemical combinations, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Only a few scientific tweaks might keep the drugs different enough to avoid illegality. Labelling the drug as unsuitable for human consumption could also help skirt any repercussions, the Economist said.
“There’s no way that the DEA can keep up with the sophisticated chemists around the world who are making this stuff,” U.S. attorney Timothy Heaphy told the Journal.
The Federal Analogue Act of 1986 made unknown substances similar to already banned drugs illegal. And in October 2011, the Drug Enforcement Agency added several of the main components of bath salts, like cathinones.
These changes helped, but they only doused flames on the hoops prosecutors must jump through for a conviction.
In Heaphy’s recent coutroom victory, the jury had to first decide if the three drugs the defendant sold showed “actual, intended, or claimed stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect” similar to drugs listed in the Controlled Substances Act, according to the Journal. Next, the drugs had to have “substantial similarity” to controlled substances listed in federal law.
Lawyers estimated trial took twice as long as cost twice as much because of all the extra resources.
Bath salts can induce effects such as paranoia, agitation, and hallucinatory delirium. Some users even display psychotic and violent behaviour, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Contrary to popular belief though, the Florida “cannibal” arrested for eating another man’s face wasn’t high on bath salts.
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