Darlene Younker, a representative of the local chapter of the Arizona Tea Party, displays a protest message against the sale of designer drugs known as spice and bath salts in front of the Payson Texaco Saturday.
Photo by Dennis Fendler.
A bill signed Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer makes it illegal to sell or use a synthetic drug known as bath salts.
While the use of bath salts has been a growing issue in many communities, in Payson, they were not readily available, unlike potpourri, which is sold at several convenience stores.
Potpourri is also a synthetic drug, but made with different chemicals. Several of those chemicals used to make potpourri or spice were added to the state’s list of dangerous drugs last year.
Drug manufacturers, however, went around the law by slightly changing the products’ chemical makeup.
“This is the difficulty with the law keeping up with the science of these substances,” said Gila County Attorney Daisy Flores.
The bill signed Friday outlaws seven chemicals used to make bath salts.
Bath salts are sold under various brand names and packages typically state “not for human consumption.”
Friday’s bill went into effect immediately and criminalizes the sale, possession or use of any bath salts.
“With this law in place, we are finally armed with a tool to deal with this harmful substance,” Flores said.
“More importantly, no longer will it appear to our children that these drugs are OK to purchase at your local store and use.”
As new synthetic drugs hit the shelves, and manufacturers work around the law, it is crucial the state works quickly to ban these drugs, Flores said.
“As a prosecutor, one of the major concerns is, similar to synthetic marijuana, creative manufacturers develop alternative components to these substances that are not yet illegal,” she said. “These new drugs then hit the market and our current system is slow to respond. Our state prosecution council, Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council, is working hard to ensure that as new dangerous synthetic drugs hit the market we will be able to address it quickly to ensure that these creative ways of getting around the law are stopped.”
Bath salts are a derivative of cathinone, a psychoactive substance with stimulant properties that occur naturally in the khat plant.
The effects of synthetic cathinones are similar to amphetamines like ecstasy and cocaine.
Since bath salts have not been tested on humans, effects vary and medical treatment can be difficult, Flores said.
Until now, the list of dangerous drugs did not specifically include bath salts.
Friday’s action permanently removes these drugs from retail outlets in Arizona.
State representatives Brenda Barton (R-Safford) and Chester Crandell (R-Heber) sponsored Friday’s bill.