Bath Salts – The New Drug for 2012?

Reports from around the country have alerted all of us to a new phenomenon in the illegal drug market. Although they are referred to as “bath salts,” these substances are not the type of thing your mother or grandmother might have suggested for use in your bath. Although sometimes sold as bath salts, they bear little or no relation to the bath salts defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, that is, “a usually colored crystalline compound for perfuming and softening bathwater.”

Far from being a bath additive to enhance the look and feel of one’s skin, the bath salts in the news this year contain methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). It’s a powerful stimulant that also causes hallucinations, paranoia and, in some cases, suicide. Until last year, it was not illegal under federal law, and it is currently a Schedule I drug in New York. This means generally that it has a high potential for abuse and no medical treatment value.

A Daily News report states that this week a New York mother possibly under the influence of MDPV engaged in bizarre behavior, including stripping off her clothing while beating her 3-year old child in front of her house. Police used pepper spray in an unsuccessful attempt to subdue the violent and incoherent woman. She was then shot with a taser (stun gun), and even then it took two men to handcuff her. She later died at the hospital. The events this week were not unique, as there have been numerous reports from around the country concerning instances of bizarre and violent behavior which were the alleged result of the consumption of MDPV. Some of these cases include behavior that has resulted in MDPV being called the “zombie” drug:

  • A Miami man who was shot and killed by police after he refused to cease chewing on a homeless man’s face;
  • An Austin man who jumped off a bridge, stripped off his pants and shirt, and assaulted an EMS worker;
  • Another Miami man who was barking and attempted to eat the hand of an officer.

We say “alleged” because none of the recent reports refer to any chemical or other scientific tests to determine the presence of MDPV; in most of these situations, the “bath salts” claim was made by officers, bystanders, friends and family members. Whatever the final analysis may be, this New York criminal lawyer expects that we will hear more about MDPV in the weeks and months to come.

George Vomvolakis Law Offices
275 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 682-0700