Pubdate: Sat, 14 May 2011
Source: Williamsport Sun-Gazette (PA)
Copyright: 2011 Williamsport Sun-Gazette
Author: Jim Runkle, Williamsport Sun-Gazette


LOCK HAVEN - Clinton County District Attorney Michael Salisbury has
asked the county for an ordinance banning the sale and use of "bath
salts" commonly consumed as a legal but highly dangerous synthetic

Clinton County may join a number of counties looking for a temporary
solution to a growing problem to fill the gap while the state grapples
to create a more permanent, statewide ban.

"In my three-and-a-half years in office, this is only the second time
I've felt it necessary to approach the board of commissioners on an
issue," Salisbury said. "I am saddened by what I am seeing. (Thursday)
evening, we had a high-speed chase on Interstate 80 that eventually
involved dozens of officers and led to the injury of one officer,
along with risking the lives of many others and the public."

Salisbury addressed the commissioners at their meeting Thursday to
raise the issue and to ask for a temporary solution while the proposed
statewide solution - in the form of legislation - makes its way
through the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Bath salts - marketed under exotic names like Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave
and Tranquility - are sold at many shops across the state.

The drugs are legal and sell for about $40 for a half-gram, and police
can't cite anyone for selling or purchasing it.

But that could change in the near future.

The commissioners spoke strongly in favor of the action, then turned
the matter over to Lewis G. Steinberg to view a sample ordinance from
Scranton and determined if such a law could stand constitutional muster.

If the county uses the Scranton model, any business caught selling the
product in this region could ultimately be forced to close.

Salisbury highlighted his remarks with details of an alleged
aggravated assault that occurred in Lock Haven on Wednesday evening
that led to the arrest of a Mill Hall man on charges of aggravated
assault, recklessly endangering lives, fleeing police and other
misdemeanor and summary charges.

Salisbury said there were clear indications that the arrest had its
beginnings in the abuse of the salts.

Citing the highly dangerous high-speed chase Wednesday evening, the
district attorney said he was taking the unusual step of asking for
the creation of a county ordinance as a stop-gap measure to prevent
the abuse and allow legal action to occur while legislators move their
bill through to the governor's desk.

Salisbury said he was taking this step because it would be problematic
just approaching the city for an ordinance.

"If we did that, we'd only be pushing it out to Castanea, or
Flemington or Bald Eagle Township,' he said.

The legislation to ban the sale of "bath salts" in Pennsylvania has
received unanimous support and now goes to the House of
Representatives for approval. Officials said the bill is being
fast-tracked because of the growing number of incidents involving the
drugs, which mimic the effects of cocaine and methamphetamines.

"Hopefully, by the end of the month, this action will be moot,"
Salisbury said.

The drugs are said to cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations and
erratic behavior.

Senate Bill 1006 would add Salvia Divinorum, Salvinorin A, Divinorin
A, and synthetic marijuana, synthetic cocaine and synthetic heroin,
more commonly referred to as concentrated bath salts, to the list of
Schedule I controlled substances.

"We're seeing it in the news every night," Commissioner Adam Coleman

Commissioner Joel Long said of Salisabury's request, "If it's legal to
do this, we will do it."

Salisbury said he and other law enforcement officials have looked into
the sales since the salts - and the crimes they seem to spark - have
begun to grow.

In Clinton County, he said, it appears that only one local business is
marketing a substance that could be considered in a similar category.
In this case, he said, a place on Hanna street offers a substance
labeled "herbal" for $50 an ounce or $35 per half-ounce, and it
appears as if this product is being abused in a similar manner as the
bath salts.

Local resident Tim Havener offered a different view, saying statewide
or national bans on drug use rarely work and described the
prosecutor's request as a "knee-jerk reaction ... as if banning it
will just make it go away."

Havener said the "war on drugs" represented "40 years of stupidity"
and has failed again and again to make any sort of substantial stab at
killing drug abuse. He also said that strict prohibitions don't
achieve much more than removing government's ability to control the

"The problem of illegal drugs is something that won't ever be solved,"
Coleman replied, "but that doesn't mean that illegal drugs shouldn't
be regulated." 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.