Casey to DEA: Ban ‘Bath Salts’ Immediately

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today urged the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to use its authority to temporarily ban the chemicals in so-called ‘bath salts’ to immediately take the dangerous drugs off the streets. In a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, Senator Casey pointed to recent DEA action to ban synthetic marijuana as precedent to take immediate action against the drugs in bath salts. Senator Casey also supports legislation to ban bath salts. 

“A series of recent crimes and violent attacks by individuals using ‘bath salts’ have shown that these drugs pose an imminent threat to public safety,” wrote Senator Casey. “As you did earlier this month in the case of synthetic marijuana, I ask you to ban MDPV and mephedrone for up to one year as DEA continues to study the effects of these drugs.”

In his letter to the DEA, Senator Casey pointed to the spike in calls regarding bath salts to U.S. Poison Centers – from 298 in 2010 to 1,196 already in 2011 – and the rapid increase in incidents involving bath salts requiring police response as evidence of the immediate danger these drugs pose to the public.

Senator Casey recently cosponsored the Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act (S.409), introduced by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), which would immediately add the ingredients in bath salts to the list of controlled substances.

There have been numerous reports of bath salts being linked to violent behavior and deaths. An individual in Scranton charged with attacking a priest was reported to be high on bath salts at the time of the attack.

MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone are the main ingredients of these so-called ‘bath salts,’ and are now being sold online, at convenience stores and in smoke shops under names like Tranquility, Zoom, Ivory Wave, Red Dove and Vanilla Sky. According to numerous reports, the chemicals found in these bath salts cause effects similar to those caused by cocaine and Methamphetamines, including hallucinations, paranoia and suicidal thoughts.

The two synthetic chemicals, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone are uncontrolled substances with no known medicinal purpose. The harmful impact of these powders has been recognized around the world and countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel have acted quickly to ban these substances.  Similarly, several states, including North Dakota, Florida and Louisiana have now banned the sale of these chemicals within their jurisdictions. 

The full letter is below:

Dear Administrator Leonhart:

I am writing today regarding the prevalence and abuse of so-called “bath salts” in communities throughout Pennsylvania and across the United States.  Marketed as bath crystals, plant food, and herbal incense, the synthetic chemicals MDPV and mephedrone have a similar effect on the body as cocaine and methamphetamines.  Unlike cocaine and methamphetamines, however, “bath salts” are sold legally in most states, including in my home state of Pennsylvania.  DEA should exercise its authority to temporarily ban bath salts as it did earlier this month with synthetic marijuana.

A series of recent crimes and violent attacks by individuals using “bath salts” have shown that these drugs pose an imminent threat to public safety.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, U.S Poison Centers have taken 1,196 calls regarding “bath salts” already this year, up from 298 calls in 2010.  Police in Scranton, Pennsylvania report that bath salts first appeared in the area in December.  Since that time incidents related to “bath salts” requiring police response have increased rapidly.  In one high profile case, a man using “bath salts” allegedly entered a monastery and stabbed a priest. 

Because “bath salts” pose a clear threat to public health, I urge you to exercise DEA’s emergency authority under the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 to place MDPV and mephedrone in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act for up to one year.  This temporary ban would allow DEA to complete its ongoing investigation of MDPV and mephedrone without placing communities at risk while that work is completed.  This same emergency authority was recently used in DEA’s March 1st determination to temporarily ban the five chemicals used in synthetic marijuana.

MDVP and mephedrone should be taken off the shelves and out of our communities.  As you did earlier this month in the case of synthetic marijuana, I ask you to ban MDPV and mephedrone for up to one year as DEA continues to study the effects of these drugs.  Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely,

                                                            Robert P. Casey, Jr.
                                                            United States Senator

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