wave of madness
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Wave of Madness
August, 2012, Page 24
Three of the biggest bath salts and spice distributors in the nation are registered LLCs with the Arizona Corporation Commission: Revolution Distribution, Consortium Distribution (both in Phoenix), and Dynamic Distribution in Tempe. On paper, all three are “cosmetics and cleaning products” businesses. One of the most popular brands of “bath salts,” Eight Ballz, is a registered federal trademark of Consortium; the Wicked X brand is a registered trademark of Revolution; Wicked Herbals, a popular online store offering bath salts and “carpet cleaner,” states in its online FAQ that its packages are discreetly mailed with a return address for Dynamic Distribution.
In addition to presenting themselves as cosmetics and cleaning product companies, local distributors try to cover their legal bases by posting lab test reports about various bath salts brands to their websites that show negative results for any banned synthetics. Wickedherbals.com claims they cannot reveal what is in the bath salts they sell, but they post lab results showing what is not in the products. Eight Ballz tested negative for 24 substances including mephedrone, methylone, methedrone, methamphetamine, ketamine, and several barbiturates. But that only whittles the contents down to around 57 other cathinone substitutes that may or may not be present in the product, along with any number of mystery ingredients. And therein lies the big unknown: None of the “bath salts” products on the market list their contents on the packaging.
In September 2011, The Star Tribune in Minneapolis paid a lab to test 30 so-called “legal high” products, including 15 bath salts, that reporter Larry Oakes easily purchased over the Internet and at area head shops. The lab results read like a recipe for a killer chemical cocktail. The tests were conducted prior to the DEA’s emergency federal ban on MDPV; at the time, nine of the 15 bath salts were found to contain concentrations of MDPV anywhere from 2 percent to 36 percent. Two products, Charly Sheen and GoGaine, were a mixture of dental anesthetic Lidocaine and synthetic compound MDAI, which is typically non-neurotoxic but may become neurotoxic (altering the nervous system and damaging nervous tissue) when mixed with other drugs. One product, Sky Vanilla, was found to be 100 percent caffeine. Tests of two same-size packets of the bath salts Vanilla Sky showed that one packet contained 17 percent MDPV, while the other packet had 35 percent MDPV.
The bottom line with bath salts: The chemicals and their dosage are complete X factors. “With these drugs, you never know what the concentration’s going to be. You never know what the other side effects are going to be,” LoVecchio says. “Obviously, they’re not FDA-approved and they haven’t been tested.”
In February 2012, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed House Bill 2356 into law, which effectively bans seven of the chemical compounds commonly used in bath salts. In March, Arizona Senator Linda Gray and Rep. Frank Pratt introduced House Bill 2388, which would have given the Arizona Board of Pharmacy and department of public safety the authority to identify and restrict certain substances, rather than leaving it to lawmakers. The bill passed in the Senate but died in the House, where it was largely viewed as something that gave away too much legislative control. Gray says some representatives told her they would have allowed the bill to pass “if we had changed it to say that each time we find a new chemical, the governor is required to call us into session. Well, that could be every other month,” Gray says. “That’s why it was important to allow the pharmacy board – those experts who know the chemicals – to be able to identify and say ‘You can’t sell it unless you have a pharmacy license.’ Of course, your reputable pharmacists are not going to sell it.”
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