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1. Face-Saving Drug Ban
For a month last summer, major news outlets accepted and propagated the idea that synthetic stimulants sold as "bath salts" were responsible for a grisly attack in which one man chewed off most of another's face on Miami's MacArthur Causeway. The story gave us classic headlines like "Bath Salts, Drug Alleged 'Face-Chewer' Rudy Eugene May Have Been On, Plague Police and Doctors" (CBS News) and "New 'Bath Salts' Zombie-Drug Makes Americans Eat Each Other" (Russia Today).
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) jumped on the story like Rudy Eugene (above left) did on poor old Ronald Poppo. "When they learn about this face-chewing situation in Florida," Dent told Roll Call in early June, "hopefully that will change a few minds." Dent was referring to the debate over his proposed ban on stimulants used in "bath salts." Apparently he got his wish, because a few weeks later Congress approved the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012, which bans two of those substances, MDPV and mephedrone. On the very same day, toxicological tests revealed that Eugene, a.k.a. the Causeway Cannibal and the Miami Zombie, had not consumed "bath salts" after all.