As States Crack Down on Meth-Like "Bath Salts," What Are Your Remaining Legal Highs?
Perhaps you've seen the tiny packets of intriguing substances with mysterious, floaty names like "Cloud 9," "Ivory Snow," and "Blue Silk," in your local convenience store or bodega or go-to gas station. Perhaps you've been curious; perhaps you've even purchased them and experienced what they have to offer. But your time with said products are limited: "Law enforcement has caught on," announces NPR. And, so, Florida joins Louisiana in banning the sale of the so-called "bath salts" that lend an apparent meth-like high, making people do things like rip radars out of cop cars with their teeth, or attack their moms with machetes after mistaking them for monsters.
These "bath salts" are usually snorted or smoked, which is not something one generally does with bath salts at all, and seems unpleasant, or at the very least, soapy. Upon doing so, a person becomes "extremely anxious and combative, they think there's stuff trying to get them, they're paranoid [and] they're having hallucinations." The chemical in the snorting-salts is MDPV, which can cause all sorts of crazy drug-like effects, as well as the possibility of kidney failure, seizure, muscle damage, and -- er -- loss of bowel control.
Currently there are brands of the bath salts marketed in all 50 states and, of course, online, under a variety of creative names. Given the Florida and Louisiana crackdowns, expect a bill in Congress soon to give your favorite bath salts the old Four Loko treatment. In fact, our own Senator Charles Schumer is behind a plan for a nationwide ban.
But why would you want to snort bath salts from the gas station when you have K2 and Salvia, at least in New York City, at least for now? Our own Myles Tanzer ventured to neighboring St. Marks Place, where stores continue to sell the two products. Here's what he found:
Salvia Divinorum (also known as that stuff Miley inhaled) is a hallucinogenic herb mostly imported from South America and Mexico. Although it's in the mint family of plants, it's generally regarded as having a bad taste when smoked. It is usually, and best, smoked through a bong, and when done right the user experiences about 15 minutes of hallucinations, laughter, and a feeling of getting "pulled." Scientists have yet to find any long term or short term major negative effects of Salvia but it is starting to get banned state by state. So far about 10 states have banned Salvia, including Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. A gram of 20x Salvia extract is goes for about $40 and can be found at pretty much all smoke shops nowadays.
K2, or "spice," as it is frequently called, is a synthetic form of weed sold practically everywhere. The effects when smoked are almost identical to those of smoking weed. The ingredients in K2 are kind of mysterious: The suppliers often say it's made up of a "blend of natural herbs," and scientists cannot decide what it actually is. For that reason, DEA agents in November decided to put an emergency 1-year ban on K2. K2 runs for about the same price as Salvia and is usually next to it in the display cases.
There's no telling how long the products will remain legal or available in stores (since the products are synthetic, makers indicate that new chemical compounds will be created to replace what is banned). For their part, New York users and shopkeepers think the drugs should stay around, at least so long as they're not hurting anyone.
As one shopkeeper put it, "We've fought wars over personal freedom. This is insane. Everything should be left up for people to make up their own decisions about things. Prohibition didn't work in the '40s, so what are they doing? First it's going to be Salvia and then what's next? Voting?"
Hey, has anyone tried snorting those ballots yet?
With reporting by Myles Tanzer