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article imageOp-Ed: Bath salts — Legal garbage is opening a lethal can of worms

By Paul Wallis     Nov 2, 2012 in Crime
Sydney - Drug taking is a fact of this society. It always has been. Making things illegal tends to promote use, not stop it. Demand rises. Legal highs like the appallingly crappy bath salts are cashing in on the demand and making millions.
Meanwhile, getting around legality has never been easier. The new drugs are coming onstream so fast they can’t be legislated against at the same rate. The classic case is bath salts, a truly iffy collection of various types of substances which are effectively a sort of bastardized speed. These things are both cheap and nasty. They’re promoted as “legal highs”, but the fact is that they’re much cheaper than the illegal drugs, which is a big selling point.
They’re also cool, according to the people making millions out of them. The fact is that these shoddy things are likely to do some real damage. Like speed and coke, they’re liver destroyers. If you’ve never actually been to hell, liver damage is a great way of getting a travel brochure. The result is misery.
But, of course, the street-smart schmucks are calling it the greatest thing to ever happen. One person died of this garbage in Australia recently, and the story is anything but cool:
After describing a pretty lousy 24 hour plus experience of those who used the bath salts in an article called "Naked and psychotic", the Sydney Morning Herald goes on:
But this was not a normal drug overdose. The pair had done nothing illegal.
The culprit was so-called ''bath salts'', a legal synthetic drug that mimics the effects of cocaine and has quietly reached Australia after sparking widespread concern overseas.
The pair had bought a bag of nondescript white powder called ''Smokin' Slurrie'' from the Nauti & Nice adult shop in Rutherford. It was labelled ''not for consumption'' but marketed online and in forums as a legal high. Mr Punch's death was the first bath salts fatality in Australia but the commander of the state's drug squad, Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham, has since revealed that the mysterious product is ''flying off the shelves'' in adult shops, tobacconists and online, prompting a parliamentary inquiry into the rapidly emerging synthetic drug market
See the demand mechanism at work. This "peasant’s high", taken intravenously, is very fast acting. Injecting speed or its relatives results in an instantaneous, heavy, uncontrollable rush. The two victims apparently went through quite an ordeal. The woman in this story survived, in a pretty messed-up condition.
Dosage? What dosage?
There’s another ugly little twitch to this story- The “dosage”. According to some tests, bath salts as a genre become active at doses of 3mg. The “recommended dose" is 50mg. Sells more bath salts? Yep. Means the stuff is of varying potency? Yep.
Traditional junkie wisdom uses “match head” sizes to determine potency. This is a basic test for things like heroin. You (usually) won’t be killed by a match head size rock of heroin, and if you get a big hit off a dose of this size, it’s very potent indeed. This may not sound too macho, but it’s a way to avoid an instant OD.
Ironically, the illegal drugs have become “safer” than this crap simply because people know how to use them. They know the risks. The new species of legal drugs is far more dangerous because nobody’s too sure what they can do.
For example:
These illegal drugs have known/understood doses:
LSD, mescalin, peyote, etc.
Hashish and cannabinoids
Opiates (heroin, opium, morphine, codeine, etc.)
Some types of methamphetamine (Pharmaceutical types only, not illegally made types)
These don’t, partly because of additives but often because of being cut:
Crank (speedballs of a widely varied range)
Krokodil (a Russian cocktail that causes actual necrosis and tissue damage used by heroin addicts)
Variants of these like bath salts
Bath salts- Doing business in the wrong neighbourhood
There’s a less obvious side to all this clever entrepreneurial money grubbing. While the fuzzy world of legalities may be vague, slow and inept, these drugs and their money making will attract some heavy hitters. The sellers of the bath salts may not have any idea what they’re getting into.
The likely result of ODs, deaths and bad bath salts could result in a lot of these guys getting their heads blown off. The money will attract some very nasty possibilities. These guys apparently don’t know/haven’t clicked that they’re not selling groceries to commuters. As an ex-junkie I can say that the Ten Commandments are considered optional extras by both users and dealers, and that a cash register will not convincingly stop a bullet or a crowbar. Nor will your cranium or any other anatomical attachments you may be considering keeping for future personal use.
If you’ve got a lot of high value stuff, you’ve reclassified yourself as an endangered species the minute you start selling. The bath salts have created a new option for making money in the drug scene. That’s dangerous by definition, and it’s not going to get less dangerous as the word spreads.
These useless things should go off the shelves and into oblivion. The risks are obvious, the money is big and the wolves are gathering.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about bath salts, legal highs, the psychology of drug use, Crack, Ice
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