Jul 14, 2011 8:38 PM by Melissa Anderson (Helena)
A growing number of states are moving to ban synthetic drugs like bath salts. The substances can cause severe side effects, including paranoia, hallucinations, and sometimes violent behavior.
While Montana hasn't joined other states in making the properties in bath salts illegal, law enforcement officials are keeping a watchful eye on the situation.
Helena Police Department Lieutenant Corey Livesay is surfing the internet and finding all sorts of synthetic drugs that are considered legal but can be lethal.
Livesay noted, "Products meant to mimic marijuana, or synthetic products that are meant to mimic ecstasy, cocaine...and also we've seen some synthetics show up that are meant to mimic methamphetamine."
Most of the products say they create a euphoric effect and some are hallucinogenics.
Livesay said, "We're seeing people who have hallucinations, paranoia, a lot of agitation, a lot of inability to walk and operate vehicles...we're seeing people that go unconscious. Our fear is that it could move beyond that to death."
They are marketed with names like Meow M, K2, Spice, and most recently, Bath Salts.
The dangers of the synthetic bath salts are that they are purposely being snorted or ingested or even taken intravenously.
Livesay said, "All of these products when they're out there, say not for human consumption, when all the while the only purpose for that product to be out there is for the human consumption."
And while they are not illegal, the number of calls to poison control centers across the nation have skyrocketed since the drug has grown in popularity.
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said, "It is something that we are closely monitoring because in some states it's become a significant problem."
Livesay says the best way to combat the problem is through educating the public about the dangers.
Livesay notes that authorities can charge people with DUI if they are caught under the influence of these products.