Pubdate: Tue, 24 May 2011
Source: Morris Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2011 Morris Daily Herald
Author: Christina Chapman


Synthetic drugs being marketed under names such as "White Dove bath
salts" and "Mister Nice Guy potpourri" may not have been the cause of
death in any cases yet in Grundy County, but they have contributed to
the loss of life.

"My concern is it may not be the immediate cause of death, but it can
be the cause of the incident ending up in death," Grundy County
Coroner John Callahan said. Being under the influence of a substance
causes delayed reactions and bad decision making.

In the last year, Callahan said, his office has investigated two
deaths where toxicology reports have come back with synthetic cannabis
in the deceased's system.

Across the state, authorities are seeing an increase use of synthetic
drugs being disguised as bath salts, potpourri, incense, plant food
and other products. As of right now, the drugs are not illegal because
manufacturers are changing the chemical makeup to get a person high,
but the makeup alteration is not enough to not make it illegal, Grundy
County State's Attorney John Bates said.

In addition, the packages say "Not for human consumption," in an
attempt to protect manufacturers from liability.

The fact the drugs are legal, easily accessible, and do not show up on
drug tests means the drugs are a rapidly growing trend among all ages,
officials say.

Depending on the product, a person using it could get a high similar
to that from cannabis or as extreme as those from methamphetamine or

Some of the products contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV,
Bates noted. These synthetic drugs can cause severe anxiety,
agitation, increased heart rate, delusions, seizures, high blood
pressure and even death.

"It's a combination of the dose, whether its injected, ingested,
snorted, and it also depends on the other medicines or substances the
person is on," said Dr. Carol DesLauriers with the Illinois Poison
Center. "(The effect also) depends on the person. It's like when one
person has to drink five cups of coffee to get out of bed in the
morning and another has one cup of coffee and goes nuts."

At the end of April, an Alton woman died of an overdose on bath salts,
while earlier this month an Indiana woman high on bath salts trashed a
hotel room. The woman was found on the hotel bed rambling about evil
spirits and that she had to write on the walls to protect herself from
them, according to published reports.

Although Morris Hospital has not encountered any emergency situations
dealing directly with these synthetic drugs, it is being sold locally,
said Bates, who has been alerted of this through drug court officials.

Bates said the synthetic drugs are sold in convenience stores, truck
stops, smoke shops and specialty stores. Because the stores are not
doing anything illegal, arrests cannot be made. Currently, the
Illinois House and Senate are looking at proposed bills to outlaw such
drugs. The federal government is also looking at measures. In January
"K2," a synthetic cannabis, was made illegal. But shortly thereafter,
new chemical versions were on the market, said Paula Goodwin,
prevention specialist for the Grundy County No Tolerance Task Force.

The Morris Daily Herald found these synthetic drugs being sold locally
in at least two Morris stores. "It's not supposed to do anything, it
says potpourri. But, like kids sniffing glue, they do what they're not
supposed to do," said an employee of one of the local establishments
selling the products.

So why still sell it? Because, said the employee, the customers are
asking for it and were going to other towns for it.

"We figure, let's get the tax revenue here," said the

With the K2 law that took affect in January, sales have gone down. If
a person talks about ingesting the product in any way, they have to
refuse to sell to them, said the employee.

What's surprising, the employee said, is the age range of people
purchasing the products. They see anyone from age 30 to 60 purchasing
the bath salts and potpourri.

The poison center said the average age at which they are seeing usage
is around 30. Half to most who use these products end up in the
hospital, said DesLauriers. Callahan confirmed the two Grundy County
deaths with the drugs in their system were middle-aged people.

"And we're not seeing this as an urban problem. Over half are outside
of Cook County," DesLauriers said.


Morris police anticipate the trend growing locally, even though it is
not a big issue currently, Chief Brent Dite said.

"It's here and our officers are aware of it and are doing what they
can to get it off the streets," Dite said.

The Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad has made all the local agencies
aware of these drugs and the No Tolerance Task Force is spreading word
and information to its contacts. Goodwin said there have been reports
of local youth admitting to using these products.

Making people aware is key because of what is known of the immediate
effects, but also because no one knows what the long-term effects of
these synthetic drugs are.

"If you think your child is being very clean because for two months
he's been buying bath salts, it could be synthetic drugs . . . it's
very dangerous," Dite said, and parents need to be aware of what their
child is doing.

Dr. DesLauriers encouraged parents to keep their eyes out for behavior
changes, like you would look for if you suspected any other drug use.
Possible warning signs include a person no longer liking to do what
they used to, borrowing or stealing money, having changes in his or
her appearance (dress, blood -shot eyes), or using air fresheners or
breath mints more frequently to cover odors.

"You don't know what is really in the dosage, if its contaminated or
the difference from brand to brand or batch to batch. We don't know
the long-term effects, so it's really kind of scary," she said.
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