Bath Salts: Sen. Charles Schumer Looks to Impose Nationwide Ban

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., proposes ban on cocaine-like bath salts.

ByABC News
February 8, 2011, 9:39 AM

Feb. 8, 2011— -- Following bans in Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota, and a warning from White House Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, New York Sen. Charles Schumer has proposed a bill that would add bath salts to a list of federally controlled substances.

"These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country," Schumer said in a Feb. 1 statement.

The synthetic drugs sold online, in convenience stores and in smoke shops can affect the body in ways similar to cocaine and methamphetamines.

"The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in," Schumer said. "These so-called bath salts are dangerous drugs masquerading as a harmless product. They offer a cheap and deadly high, and we need to move immediately to get them off the shelves."

Schumer has also asked New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah to ban the chemicals statewide. Other states, such as Idaho, are following suit. The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel have already banned the chemicals.

The recent flurry of legislation stems from mounting reports of bath salts, plant food and incense made with methylenedioxypyrovalerone and mephedrone causing hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, even some deaths.

By almost any measure, Jarrod Moody had gotten his life together. By the middle of last year, Moody, 29, had successfully kicked an addiction to the prescription painkiller Dilaudid, gotten a steady job and had prepared to move in to a new place. In August 2010, his last random drug test came back negative.

Then in September, it was as if someone "flipped a switch," said his father, John. Jarrod complained of insomnia and, when he could sleep, horrible nightmares. He began talking to himself and would have "bursts of superhuman energy" minutes after complaining of crippling stomach pains. In less than two weeks he'd be dead.

"I said, 'This looks like drug use all over again,' but we didn't see any track marks on his arm and we didn't find anything," said John. A concerned friend of Jarrod's told his dad he was using a new street drug called "Ivory Wave."

When Jarrod showed up at the house looking more gaunt and haunted than he ever did on painkillers, his father urged his son to get counseling. "I said let me take you for help," John tells ABC News, choking back tears. "He sat there for a minute and said, 'I love you, Dad,' and walked out the door."

In the early hours of the following morning Jarrod Moody shot himself in the head with a pistol he'd taken from a friend. He died almost instantly. The hospital's toxicology report came back clean -- no illegal drugs were in his system.

In the weeks that followed, John would discover that Ivory Wave, the drug that had been causing his son such mental and physical turmoil, is legally sold as bath salts. The drug is part of a new trend of phony products -- usually bath salts, plant food and insect repellant -- designed with the express purpose of giving a cheap, legal high.

In 2010 there were 233 reports calls to U.S. poison centers for the ingestion of the chemicals most commonly found in these products, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

In the first ten days of 2011, that number had already hit 69.

"It's truly scary," said Mark Ryan of Louisiana Poison Control. "This stuff has literally consumed my work days since the middle of October. We need to do something. It's out of hand."