Updated 06/28/2012 07:51 PM
Policy makers on all levels combat bath salts
Synthetic drugs, sometimes referred to as bath salts, have caught local government agencies from law enforcement to health departments off-guard in a slurry of violent and disturbing cases. Our Andrew Sorensen looks at what some policy makers are doing to combat the increasingly popular and increasingly dangerous drugs.
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WAMPSVILLE, N.Y.-- Madison County Director of Public Health Eric Faisst, like just about every other government agency, is struggling to reign in synthetic drugs commonly referred to as bath salts.
"We're still seeing an increase of individuals reporting to our hospitals high on this stuff. It's creating public safety concerns with our law enforcement, our EMT," he said.
And almost every level of government is fighting back. Faisst's solution in Madison County is a new Bath Salts Task Force, which is looking into how to train police and the public to respond to the drugs.
"So there's an educational piece, we're also looking at, like I said, a clinical and medical and behavioral health care piece," he explained.
They hope to curb use by also addressing the underlying addiction issues with the drugs. They would like to ban them, but many local governments say they don't have the resources or authority to stop bath salts.
"The bottom line here is in consultation with law enforcement, trying to give them resources and tools to effectually deal with the challenge," Senator Joseph Griffo said.
That's why Senator Griffo is co-sponsoring a new state law on synthetic drugs that would be even more restrictive than the most recent federal laws passed by Congress.
Senator Griffo co-sponsored a similar bill that was signed into law last year, but there was a big loophole that allowed the drug to stay on the streets.
"The problem is that these chemists find ways to alter the compounds, as a result of that, they can get around this," Griffo explained
The new law would ban the specific chemicals seen in the drugs, as well as any derivatives, by outlawing the general chemical structures needed as the basic ingredients.
"Then it would be impossible, even with tweaking, to make it legal," he said.
But Faisst's holistic approach of education and treatment may be the best local governments have for now, because without a special session, the Assembly won't vote on the bill until January.
Several municipalities around the state have banned bath salts already, but many say they are looking to state and federal agencies to increase their pressure on the manufacturers of the products.