Business owners should boycott bath salts
by ALLISON CRYER
Just when we thought U.S. legislation put an end to the battle to keep deadly mind-altering synthetic drugs, commonly called “bath salts,” off our streets, manufacturers are waiting in the wings to come up with the next new chemical concoction and it seems our legal system will be unable to keep up.
In recent years, the U.S. has seen a surge in the use of such synthetic drugs made of legal chemicals that mimic the dangerous effects of cocaine, amphetamines and other illegal stimulants. The drugs are often sold at small, independent stores in misleading packaging that suggests common household items like bath salts, incense and plant food. However, the substances inside are powerful, mind-altering drugs that have been linked to bizarre and violent behavior across the country.
President Barack Obama signed a bill into law earlier this month that bans the sale, production and possession of more than 12 of the most common bath salt drugs. However, health professionals are saying lawmakers cannot keep pace with bath salt producers, who constantly adjust their chemical formulations to come up with new synthetic drugs that aren’t covered by new laws.
The statistics are increasing at an alarming rate. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 6,100 calls about bath salt drugs in 2011 – up from just 304 the year before – and more than 1,700 calls in the first half of 2012.
The problem for lawmakers is that it’s difficult to crack down on the drugs. U.S. laws prohibit the sale or possession of all substances that mimic illegal drugs, but only if federal prosecutors can show that they are intended for human use. People who make bath salts and similar drugs work around this by printing “not for human consumption” on virtually every packet.
Just because it says not for human consumption on the package does not mean that everyone will stop buying these synthetic drugs. In a report by the Associated Press, employees at convenience stores were interviewed and said that most people who came in their store to purchase the bath salts appeared to be already under the influence or “strung out.” These synthetic drugs are appealing to citizens who are already struggling with drug addition. These drugs are alluring to drug users, who can simply walk into a store and get a cheap high, similar to that of illegal drugs.
Print what you will on the packet; we all know these drugs are being marketed for human consumption. Why else would anyone pay $50-$100 for a small jar bath of water fragrance?
If the government cannot regulate these dangerous substances, shouldn’t storeowners take the wheel and stop selling such products? Yes, it is true these toxic and dangerous chemicals could boost their bottom lines, but it is not right to profit from causing harm to your customers.
The only way to stop the makers and distributors of these types of hazardous products is for business owners to stop selling them in their stores. If stores stop purchasing the bath salts, then manufacturers will no longer have any incentive to make these dangerous substances that have been proven to cause an array of health problems, particularly in youth.
In Jennings, our police department knows that working with the store owners could be the only way to keep these types of drugs off the shelves and out of the public’s reach. The department makes periodic checks to ensure the stores are complying with their request not to sell bath salts, or any of the dangerous chemical concoctions that may be created in the future.
Jennings police have even asked the public to call in to their anonymous tips line if they have seen any bath salts being sold or displayed in local convenience stores or by any retailer. So far, most stores have been happy to cooperate with local law enforcement.
If lawmakers cannot keep up with the growing problem, then it might be up to local law enforcement, the public and the business owners who sell them to rid our community of these hazardous substances.
It is good to see that the community of Jennings is working together to keep its citizens safe. This may be the only solution that will permanently keep any new chemical formulations of these synthetic drugs off our streets. I hope that communities across the country will take our lead – putting a stop to the bath salts problem in America once and for all.
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