Bath Salts Confessional

Photo: sburke2478 (CC)

Natasha Vargas-Cooper reaches deep into “the heart America’s new drug nightmare” (which is, ahem, bath salts), for SPIN:

COLUMBUS, OH— On an unseasonably hot and muggy May afternoon, a squad of armed agents from the Franklin County Drug Task Force — some wearing street clothes, some wearing menacing ski masks — swarms into a storefront aptly named the Joint. Sandwiched between a liquor store and a sex shop, and adjacent to the Ohio State University campus, the Joint is one of 18 different head shops, gas stations, carryout restaurants, and mini-marts being searched this day by seven task force teams consisting of several dozen officers from numerous local police departments and prosecutors’ offices, all spearheaded by the County Sheriff here in the state capital.

Make no mistake: This is no ordinary pot bust. The raids are part of the ongoing Operation Synthetic Drugs, a highly coordinated and choreographed sweep through central Ohio. The target of this operation — which has received assistance from the DEA and the FBI — is a strand of a relatively obscure but insidiously metastasizing illegal substance marketed under the name “bath salts,” a deceptively innocuous moniker used to disguise the drug as a benign household product.

As small knots of sweaty tweakers gape from across the street, visibly frustrated that one of their favorite haunts is being hit, the law-enforcement troops inside the Joint hit pay dirt. After a meticulous, two-and-a-half-hour ceiling-to-floor toss, the cops emerge with a bulging Hefty bag and cardboard cartons brimming with $70,000 worth of synthetic marijuana known as Spice and what they assume to be bath salts, the latter being sold in little foil packets. By the time night falls, the task force teams seize $250,000 in illegal synthetic drugs in the greater Columbus area. Selling and possessing bath salts in Ohio is a felony, yet due to loopholes in state and federal laws, the anonymity of the Internet, and the pace at which the chemicals can be altered, prosecuting anyone above a street-level seller and buyer currently poses a stiff challenge…

[continues at SPIN]

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  • http://twitter.com/mattstaggs Matt Staggs

    “Purple prose” doesn’t even begin to describe this finely sliced piece of hysteria.

  • mole_face

    If people want to do sketchy stimulants, they should be allowed.

    I seriously doubt that most of the confiscated chemicals were explicitly illegal, or that the head shops were even aware that they were breaking any laws. I’d guess that the authorities are exploiting some sort of vague wording in Ohio’s recent anti-”research chemicals” legislation that technically allows any recreational chemical to fall under the same umbrella as the ones that were specifically banned by name.

    Their raids also missed the biggest supplier of harmful synthetic drugs in the entire downtown Columbus area – the public psych clinic. 

    • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

       > If people want to do sketchy stimulants, they should be allowed.

      Not in the Land of the Free baby!
      In the Land of the Free you do what your told and nothing more.

      Besides, this isn’t about stopping the use of bath salts.
      It’s about killing competition to CIA drug sales and
      keeping the pigs active for variety of reasons.

      There’s a old Mafia adage
      “Stay away from drug sales.
      Because with drugs, you always have cops as partners.
      And cops are nothing but trouble.”

  • charlieprimero

    ” A M E R I C A ‘ S  N E W  D R U G  N I G H T M A R E ! ! ! ”
    I have grown so weary of this propaganda.

    Publishers who peddle this crap are on the same level as the wretches who peddle blowjobs at truck stops. 

    • 6Blackie6

      Yes but at least the pathetic “Blow Job Wretches” are offering something positive!

      • charlieprimero

         Good point. 

      • Calypso_1

        a [+] serum antibody test.

    • Haystack

      I’ve even seen head shops put out signs that they don’t sell bath salts, salvia divinorum, or whatever the drug panic of the month is…People who sell bongs are the last people who should be hyping the drug war. 

    • howiebledsoe

      To be fair, one of the tag lines was “media circus.”

    • Calypso_1

      Bathsalts & Lot lizards….now that would be a party!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUO4bMRuT9Y&feature=related

  • Null

    All I can say is good job!  Im not one for the police state we live in but being a biochemist and knowing what these “bath salt” drugs are made of, I am glad they were seized.  These are not harmless party drugs, there are some exceptional risks involved with them starting with the first use.

    • charlieprimero

       You’re not for the Police State, but you applaud the Police State when it appeals to you.  

      The sad thing is you don’t even realize your ability to reason was destroyed.  You are a good citizen.

  • Reginald Vel Johnson

    I see stuff like this: http://www.vice.com/read/stop-saying-the-miami-cannibal-was-on-bath-salts and I have to wonder if all this shit about bath salts is just a way to keep this new competitor substance down.  The Union needs to keep profits flowing after all. 

    Now I could be wrong, I don’t know too much about these synthetics and their effects on the human body and mind, but it’s strange how a ton of crap has happened with bath salts rather quickly.  You hear about them all over the place these last few weeks. All due to what appears to be one apparently misinformed news story.  It’s also entirely possible this is just large scale over reaction due to the events and it’s not manufactured in any way.  Either way it’s weird.

  • howiebledsoe

    “DEA officials believe that the base compounds are manufactured primarily in China and India.”Goddammit, out-sourcing the last decent paying US jobs we have left.  ;p

  • Apis

    Did anyone else get the urge to smoke bath salts when they read this?  

  • Kemperboyd

    Over here in the UK there was a whole panic about Mephedrone….I tried it, and really hits hard, and above all it is reliable – the problem is it is potentially a nasty high, depending on what condition you are in when you take it. It was/is easy to get. Ditto strong smoking herb mixtures that use synthetic Cannibinoids. Having occasionally enjoyed ecstasy and decent natural herb, it strikes me that these things are a symptom of prohibition of less harmful, and frankly more enjoyable legal substances. MDMA , hell even LSD in controlled doses are far better/safer than this shit and in all honesty if the real thing were available in a regulated clean form, these ‘bath salts’ folks wouldn’t have a market. Don’t even get me started about pot.

     I can see why the ‘authorities’ are scared of it -it’s ugly, I wouldn’t like to see a friend become a hardcore user either, but I’m a libertarian at heart that believes you should have the right to go and fuck yourself up on cheap nasty fake drugs if you want, I would just advise against it.

    My two pennies worth……

  • Rimmer

    What a bunch of fucking idiots you are. Really stupid and rather paranoid asshats. It’s one thing to oppose the drug war and support decriminalization of harmless drugs. It’s quite another to be blind to a chemical substance that fucks you up completely. Why not just snort Drano?

    • http://www.ContraControl.com/ Zenc

      No drugs are harmless. Including the ones your doctor gives you.

      Some are more harmful than others and that tends to scale with “potency”. What most of the anti-prohibition crowd support is the idea that each person gets to make the decision of whether or not a drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.

      We require informed consent and generally respect it when the medical establishment gives a patient drugs so the concept isn’t all that foreign.

      Very few anti-prohibitionists are advocating that people take “bath salts” or even Drano, what they are advocating is that people be allowed to perform the cost/benefit analysis for themselves.

      If you would like to see how this may work in actual practice, I’d suggest you look into the quiet drug decriminalization effort that took place in Portugal about 10 years back.

    • Andrew

      Now now, you don’t have to throw expletives and insults at people in order to point out how dumb some of their ideas are.

  • GoodDoktorBad

    Fear is the mind-killer….

  • aheathen

    I have had a couple of close encounters with people under the influence of bath salts, and it’s a little scary.   You never know which way it’s gonna go, fortunately I haven’t had a serious issue yet.  I can usually get them out of my store without incident, but I’ve certainly seen them stark raving mad in my parking lot.  

    I’m all for the exploration of your own mind through the use of chemicals but bath salts can cause serious psychosis with one use and just doesn’t seem worth the risk (to me).  The thing that I like least about it is it really can put other people in some serious danger without much, if any warning.
    I have a few prison guards who come into my store as well and they often tell me how difficult dealing with “dusters” can be and I have heard some interesting stories.

    But as long as I don’t have to deal with it I don’t really care what people do…just don’t bother me at my store, I’ve got work to do.

  • http://2012diaries.blogspot.com tristan eldritch

    Anybody expressing their support for synthetic head shop drugs are misguided.  The real issue is that the safer, cleaner, more far enjoyable “real” drugs are against the law, and that unfortunate situation creates a market for these ragged, nasty, harmful, bad-time synthetics.  By all means support the de-criminalization of weed, MDMA, LSD, and so on, but standing up for the right to sell these particular drugs isn’t standing up for freedom – it’s standing up for what is just a by-product of the misguided War on Drugs – and for really lousy drugs.

  • RtFkR

    Way to give the place a heads up..fucking rat.

  • RtFkR

    Way to give the place a heads up..fucking rat.

  • Alansmith

    Salts are essential to the human body.  The average person has a small percentage of lithium salts which , believe it or not actually control your mood.  Those bath salts are seriously fucking up those already present salt levels.  Translation: you will be 11.75 eggs short of a dozen. 

  • Weee2012

    done bathsalts for 2 days straight felt like shit but deffintly didnt turn me into a zombi3

  • Mary Microgram

    If these “bath salts” indeed contain mephedrone, methylone and MDPV, they’re already illegal Schedule I substances.  I think it’s a lot more likely that these highly-paid journalists don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about any more than the DEA or other government agencies. 

    A more likely scenario is that they contain pentylone, pentedrone, 4-methylethcathinone or other not-explicitly-banned substances.  DO YOUR RESEARCH, ASSHATS!

  • Ratus666

    just snort coke like normal people

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