Legislators Back Law To Make Bath Salts Illegal In Pa.

The drug crackdown has begun, even though the targeted narcotic is still legal in Pennsylvania.

A drug nicknamed "bath salts" burst onto the headlines recently after reports of violent highs surfaced across the state.

"It's not your run of the mill bath salt," said Pa. Rep. Jerry Knowles, (R) Schuylkill/Berks counties.

Knowles is a co-sponsor of House Bill 365. The legislation would add bath salts to Pennsylvania's illegal substance list. The bill moved quickly through the state House and is maintaining speed in the Senate.

The bath salt facade and the written warning to "avoid human consumption" plays into a legal loophole that made it possible to get this drug to the masses. But officials said the substance is designed for abuse.

You won't find these bath salts in a fancy boutique. Authorities said the packets are found mostly in local convenience stores and gas stations.

"I went into a business today here in Tamaqua or here in the Tamaqua area and I approached the owner and I asked the owner to take it off the shelf," Knowles said.

Until there's a law in place, Knowles is hoping business owners will simply do the right thing and stop selling the substance.

Authorities in Lackawanna County are also taking action against the drug.

Friday, the Lackawanna District Attorney's Office confiscated 580 containers of bath salts. Assistant District Attorney Robert Klein told 69 News the drugs had a street value of $25,000.

Earlier in the week, Lackawanna County judges filed an injunction making the bust possible.

The easy access to the drug remains evident at the Poison Control Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. There, director Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt said the number of calls concerning bath salts has spiked.

"We had four calls in all of 2010," Osterhoudt explained. "We had three in January and we jumped to having 40 in February and another 45 in March and they're still coming in April."

Local investigators told 69 News they are building their intelligence about local bath salt suppliers, but until there's a law on the books, their hands are tied.

"In the meantime, we need to make sure people get it off their shelves," urged Knowles, who is asking anyone who sees the bath salts drug for sale to contact his office or local authorities.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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