Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2011
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2011 The Daily Herald Co.
Author: Rikki King


Everett police are taking a proactive approach to warn about the 
dangers of synthetics, which mimic hard drugs but can be more toxic.

They won't scent a steamy tub with lavender, but they could cause 
organ failure and profuse bleeding.

That's right -- bath salts have come to Snohomish County.

An Everett man was named in federal court last month as the suspected 
ringleader in the mass distribution of "bath salts," a street name 
for chemical compounds that mimic hard drugs. Bath salts also were 
linked to a homicide and suicide during a police chase near Olympia in April.

People started calling the concoctions "bath salts" to circumvent 
federal drug rules. The chemists switch up the formulas to stay ahead 
of the law.

The drugs came of age a little after "K2" or "Spice," street names 
for a drug commonly described as synthetic marijuana.

That's a misnomer, said Mark Brinkman, a Lynnwood police officer and 
drug recognition expert. Substances that people call synthetic 
marijuana are much worse and far less predictable, he said.

The Everett Police Department sent out a training bulletin to 
officers about "bath salts" and similar drugs a few weeks back, Sgt. 
Robert Goetz said.

Everett's crime prevention team spent Thursday visiting stores they 
thought might be sought out by bath salts distributors, Goetz said.

"Our approach is we try to be proactive at the distribution 
locations, letting them know the liabilities they have in selling 
this type of product," he said.

The department also is sending out educational materials to 
neighborhood groups, Goetz said. Everett police haven't seen many 
issues arise from the drugs so far, but they want people to know 
about the dangers.

As of late June, the Washington Poison Center had seen about 76 calls 
involving bath salts this year. The center had one call about bath 
salts in 2010, said Dr. Thomas Martin, associate medical director 
with the center.

They had nearly 90 calls about Spice last year, and about 70 so far 
this year, he said.

The state has placed an emergency ban on bath salts, said Donn Moyer, 
a spokesman for the state Department of Health. It is expected to 
become permanent.

The ban makes it illegal to make, sell, deliver or possess the drug, 
Moyer said. The ban was filed April 15. A similar rule for Spice went 
into effect in January.

Bath salts and Spice are more toxic than typical recreational drugs, 
said Martin, the Poison Center doctor.

The side effects of bath salts include higher blood pressure, a 
higher heart rate and higher body temperature. They can cause people 
to become delirious, delusional, combative and sometimes psychotic. 
The effects can last for days.

The drugs aren't regulated, so there's no set "dose," he said. The 
concentration and the cocktail of chemicals varies from packet to packet.

Because the drugs are so new, there's no research about their 
pharmacology and how they affect the body long-term, he said.

Some people have tried to get high using normal bath salts, Brinkman said.

That doesn't work.
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