Bath salts are not the Epson salts you pour in your bath water… it is the street name for a class of designer drugs that mimic cocaine and amphetamine.
Being falsely advertised let manufacturers sell the drugs online and in stores, until a crackdown came in Ohio when the General Assembly outlawed many of the common chemicals found in the drug.
A year after the ban went into effect; Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks says these drugs remain a serious threat.
“These bath salts are about the worst of any substances I’ve seen come through, including PCP and LSD,” says Mincks. “And bath salts initiate a behavior that is sometimes aggressive, uncontrollable and violent as well as unpredictable as to when it’s going to happen.”
Sheriff Mincks adds that drug manufacturers often change its make-up to get around the law. “What they’re trying to do is change the molecular structure just a little bit, they’re continually doing that and it’s sometimes hard for us to keep up with,” explains Mincks.
With unknown long-term side effects that are often erratic, those taken into custody while high on bath salts can be problematic for jail staff.
“We sometimes have to put people in restraint chairs – that causes a manpower drain because then you have to check them every ten minutes, check to see if the straps are too tight, if they have to use the bathroom or need a drink of water,” says Mincks.
Last week Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced intensified efforts to fight bath salts and other synthetic drugs, including training law enforcement how to investigate and build cases against offenders.
Sheriff Mincks says that’s a step in the right direction. “We certainly will be working and cooperating with (DeWine) and the local prosecutor will be working on this as well.”
In the past year, the sheriff’s office has made around five arrests involving synthetic drugs.