The Herkimer County Prevention Council’s community partnership addressed the Herkimer County Legislature about their concerns regarding bath salts and synthetic drugs, and want to see a county-wide ordinance banning the drug.
Lee Livermore, public health education coordinator at the Upstate New York Poison Center in Syracuse, presented numbers regarding bath salts during the legislature’s meeting on Wednesday.
“In 2012, there’s been more than a 100 percent increase in bath salts alone in Herkimer County,” said Livermore.
Zero incidents involving bath salts were reported in New York state in 2009; national numbers started showing in 2010; 118 cases were reported to the poison center [which encompasses 54 counties in New York] in 2011, with two from Herkimer County; and there were four confirmed cases in Herkimer County, only six months into 2012.
In Oneida County, there were eight incidents involving bath salts in 2011 and 36 in 2012.
Maureen Petrie, program director at the Herkimer County Prevention Council, also addressed the legislature, and noted the effects bath salts and synthetic drugs have on a person, including violent behavior, hallucinations and possibly death.
“The problem is there’s been no long-term study, so we are seeing these symptoms play themselves out and we don’t know what the effects will be,” she said.
The county legislature unanimously adopted a resolution on Wednesday asking for state legislators to ban the sale and possession of bath salts.
“It’s a resolution of support,” said county Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono during a telephone interview on Thursday.
Legislators have had a difficult time outlawing bath salts because the makers of the drug change the compounds after the law passes banning a certain substance.
Several local municipalities have or are working on their own ban of the drug, including Herkimer, Ilion, Mohawk and Frankfort.
Federal legislation was signed by President Barack Obama on Monday banning bath salts, synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs across the nation. It specifically bans methylenedioxypyrovalerone and mephedrone, the active ingredients in bath salts that are now being sold online, at convenience stores, and in smoke shops under names like Tranquility, Zoom, Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Legal Phunk and Vanilla Sky. There are 29 other substances that were banned in the law.
In the meantime, state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R - Rome, is pushing for new state legislation that goes even further to ban any of the core ingredients of bath salts that cannot be altered.
Bono said the county Attorney Robert Malone is working out the verbiage for their own ordinance on the drug. “It’s so complex ... [The makers of these drugs] can change one of the compounds and then the law is no good,” he said.
“We’ve never seen a drug like this. This is something that is legal because it hides under the name of ‘not for human consumption,’” said Livermore. “Let’s help remove this drug from the community. It’s a new brand of drug that is hiding in plain sight.”
Page 2 of 2 - Contributing: GateHouse News Service