NJ Schedules Hearing On Permanent “Bath Salts” Drug Ban

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NEWARK – A public hearing will be held Monday, July 11, as a necessary step to make New Jersey’s ban on designer drugs labeled as “bath salts” permanent, according to Thomas R. Calcagni, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in the 7th Floor Monmouth Conference Room at the Division of Consumer Affairs headquarters, 124 Halsey Street, Newark.

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New Jersey is believed to be the third state in the nation to take expedited administrative action banning all six chemicals used in designer drugs labeled as “bath salts.” New Jersey’s ban took effect with an Order of the Acting Director, signed by Calcagni on Wednesday, April 27. The order classifies the six chemicals as Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances under New Jersey’s CDS Act, thereby subjecting them to the strictest level of state control. Manufacture, distribution, sale, or possession is now a third-degree crime, subject to fines of up to $25,000 and three- to five-years imprisonment.

Examples of designer drugs labeled as "bath salts" or "plant food" (Photos courtesy of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs)

The April 27 order was enacted in an expedited manner to stop an imminent threat to health and public safety. It will remain in effect 270 days after being signed, or until the Acting Director adopts a regulation to make the ban permanent. The July 11 hearing, at which members of the public will be encouraged to speak or submit written testimony, is part of the administrative process of adopting a regulation.

“Shady retailers are now well aware they can no longer play games by disguising these highly dangerous drugs with fake labels that call them ‘bath salts’ or ‘plant food,'” Attorney General Paula T. Dow said. “We are now moving to make the ban on these drugs permanent in New Jersey. Public health and safety demand that we preserve strict criminal penalties for the sale and possession of these designer drugs.”

“Until a few weeks ago, these cocaine-like drugs were being sold legally in novelty stores and gas stations, to users who may not have known how addictive or dangerous they are, or that they are associated with chilling acts of violence,” Calcagni said. “They were sold without criminal penalties, civil regulation, or even the age restrictions placed on cigarettes. We acted swiftly to get these drugs out of the stores and off the streets before the start of the summer season. The next step is to enact a permanent ban that will keep these drugs off retail shelves and away from anyone who might use them.”

Any member of the public who wishes to speak at the July 11 hearing should submit a written request, no later than July 6, to Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director, New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, PO Box 45027, Newark, New Jersey, 07101.

Specific presentation times will be assigned, and a court reporter will be present to record the proceedings. Those who do not preregister to speak will be given an opportunity to do so, only as time permits. Written comments are also encouraged, and should be submitted to Calcagni at the above address.

Designer drugs labeled as “bath salts” are associated with intense, severe side effects that have led to suicidal thoughts, self-mutilation, and violent outbursts. Psychological side effects include extreme anxiety and paranoia, delusional thinking, and visual and auditory hallucinations. Physical side effects include dramatically increased blood pressure and heart rates, and chest pains so severe some users feared they were dying.

The drugs have been sold at gas station convenience stores, smoke shops, and other locations in New Jersey, and are widely available for sale over the Internet.

Having no known legitimate use, the drugs are falsely labeled as “bath salts,” “plant food,” or other innocuous substances, and marked “Not For Human Consumption” in order to conceal from law enforcement the true purpose of the substances.

The drugs have been sold with brand names such as “Energizing Aromatherapy,” “Down2Earth White Horse,” “Kamikaze,” “Ivory Wave,” “Purple Wave,” “Red Dove,” “Blue Silk,” “Vanilla Sky,” and many others.

The Order of the Acting Director lists the following chemicals as Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances in New Jersey:

  • 3,4 – Methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV)
  • 4 – Methylmethcathinone (Mephedrone, 4-MMC)
  • 3,4 – Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Methylone, MDMC)
  • 4 – Fluoromethcathinone (Flephedrone, 4-FMC)
  • 3 – Fluoromethcathinone (3-FMC)
  • 4 – Methoxymethcathinone (Methedrone, bk-PMMA, PMMC)

The contents of individual packets of designer drugs labeled as “bath salts” vary, but have been found to include at least one of these chemicals. The chemicals are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, which is a Schedule I CDS under Federal law.

Despite being falsely labeled as “bath salts,” these drugs should not be confused with Epsom salts or other materials that are commonly and legitimately added to bath water. The state ban does not apply to Epsom salts or other true bath salts.

More information about these drugs is available at the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs website, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov/bathsalts


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