Drug Policy

Of All Drugs, 'This Is the Scariest One'—Until Next Year


The Drug Enforcement Administration already has banned three stimulants used in the speed substitutes sold as "bath salts." A bill approved this month by the House of Representatives would ban those three chemicals plus a dozen more. But The Coloradoan is still agitating for prohibition of this "scary," "deceptively lethal" product. It reports that "people here are increasingly buying the substance to snort, smoke and shoot," with dire consequences that may include death and "permanent psychosis." In the former category, the paper cites a 26-year-old man who was found "facedown in more than a foot of water in an irrigation ditch." This it calls "the first [death] directly attributed to bath salts locally." Although it may sound more like a death directly attributed to water, the coroner said the guy drowned "secondary to his intravenous use of 'bath salts' (MDPV) and methamphetamine." (Fortunately, nothing like that ever happens to consumers of America's most popular intoxicant.) As for insanity, The Coloradoan cites "a board-certified addiction medicine specialist" with a bath-salt-consuming client who "appears to have permanent brain damage." The doctor says:

With meth or cocaine, people can get better….This is the scariest one in terms of permanent damage….What happens is when people die, they see monsters in their room and so they kill themselves or kill someone else.

Fort Collins police Sgt. Don Whiston concurs that bath salts are bad news:

People have been observed exhibiting delirium "with a very agitated state, they have super-human strength and you don't understand why they're doing what they're doing, but there are a lot of symptoms," Whiston said.

I have to say I'm a little skeptical, especially since these reports are reminiscent of stories that were once told about meth, crack, PCP, LSD, and even marijuana (not to mention Four Loko). But let's say bath salts are in fact way worse than all those other drugs combined, as prohibitionists insist (for now). Doesn't that raise questions about the judgment of policy makers who decided to ban the safer stimulants with which bath salts compete?  

More on bath salt hysteria here and here.

[Thanks to Craig Latzke for the tip.]


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  1. What happens is when people die, they see monsters in their room and so they kill themselves or kill someone else.

    *confused dog stare*

    1. In their defense, the S.W.A.T. agents do sort of look like monsters when they’re decked out in all that gear.

  2. Where’s the story about the guy who rips out his own eyeballs because of the hallucinations?

    1. How about all the acid-heads flinging themselves from buildings since they thought they could fly?
      Must have been oh, none of them.

    2. I do remember a story several years ago about some dude that did, I don’t remember what – maybe PCP? Anyhow, he took a pair of scissors and cut off his own dick and balls. All of it. Off.

      1. I don’t doubt it. And I don’t doubt the same thing has been done by someone stone-cold sober. Nuts, but sober.

        1. See Boston Corbett, shooter of John Wilkes Booth. Religion.


      1. And to think I thought you might link this.

        1. I said horrible, not stupid.

            1. I can’t really argue with any of that.

  3. deceptively lethal


    1. it’s where you think you’re dead, but then you realize you’re killing more people, and then you die. and monsters, or something.

    2. More “deceptively” abuse, which generally makes no sense if used to modify an adjective. Is it not lethal but appears to be lethal? Or does it appear harmless but is actually lethal?

      Who knows?

      1. And now you begin understand just how truly deceptive this menace can be.

  4. Does this mean no more Mr. Bubble?

  5. “What about when he punched through the windshield?”

    “He was probably on bath salts. Broke every bone in his hand and wouldn’t feel it for hours. There was this guy once; you see this scar?”

    1. Killed his afghan…screwed it first!

      (good times)

  6. I’ve always found the claims of “superhuman strength” interesting. I always envision some guy snorting a drug and then suddenly turning green and growing in size as his shirt tears away. Then he start tossing cop cars hither and thither as the public flees, screaming in horror. “Look out! He’s got SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH!! OMFG!”

    But at a certain point, the human muscles and skeleton can stand only so much strain. A given muscle can exert only so much force before it, or a tendon or other connective tissue, starts to tear, or a bone breaks.

    1. seriously. If some substance gave people superhuman strength (and the physical endurance to survive such forces), wouldn’t its use be mandatory in the armed forces?

      1. people only use a percentage of their muscular strength. that’s because a substantial %age of strength (and power) is due to neurological efficiency (see: rate coding etc.)

        golgi tendon apparatus, spindle reflex, etc.

        how does a guy like sagir, who has very little muscle mass lift such massive weight?>


        a combination of skill, high IIb fiber percentage AND neurological efficiency

        many stimulants disinhibit things like golgi tendon apparatus and/or increase neural abilities. that’s why, for example, ephedrine and clen have long been used by strength and power athletes (and have long been banned in competition)

        when you hear the crazy adrenaline fueled strength stories, what you don’t hear is that AFTEr that amazing feat of strength, the people are often severely injured.

        the reason WHY the protective mechanisms are there is to prevent injury.

        the muscle fibers themselves IF you were capable of 100% efficiency would be strong enough to tear tendons (usually) and in some cases, fracture the very bones they attach to.

        i compete in a power/strength sport. a SUBSTANTIAL portion of our training is desgined to increase neural efficiency and or disinhibit apparati (golgi etc.) that limit contraction strength.

        that’s how athletes can get SUBSTANTIALLY stronger while remaining in the same weight class over a period of (for example) 7 or 8 years

        strength is only loosely correlated with muscle mass (and power slightly less so), such that ceteris paribus, the heavier (musclewise) athlete may be stronger (that’s why we have weight classes), but substantial differences in strength will be seen at the same level of muscular development due to a host of factors, to include neuromuscular.

        in other words, the claims of superhuman strength are (often) true.

        but with this superhuman strength ALSO comes substantial costs (torn tendons, muscles, etc.)… because they do not have the proper support structure to handle those loadings.

        1. ugh, should be (probably) IIx fiber percentage, not IIb…


        2. Thanks, that was interesting.

          1. yw. it’s one of the few areas i claim “expert knowledge ” 🙂

            1. That’s not true dunphy. You are an expert in muscular-skeletal anatomy, criminal process, online poker, and SoCal punk rock.

              1. and kate beckinsdale nekkid!

                well, in my dreams i am

        3. this explanation was wasted on someone who has broken bones punching walls.

        4. but with this superhuman strength ALSO comes superhuman responsibility…


    2. You sound like my wife Lillian.

      1. Give me your superhuman Metal, baby!

  7. I heard about a babysitter who snorted a bunch of this stuff on Thanksgiving and then she put a turkey in the oven, thinking she was putting a baby in a oven, and she took it out three hours later and cut it up and put it on plates, thinking she was cutting up a baby and putting it on plates, then she put mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce on the plates, thinking she was putting mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce on plates…FOR SATAN.

    The meal was pedestrian.

    1. Naw, man, that’s not the way I heard it!

      It was Christmas, not Thanksgiving.

      1. Ya’ll are a bunch of hams.

  8. Was there a part in the story about the candy-flavored bath salts embedded in Mickey Mouse tattoos that are going around schools? Because that is some serious shit.

    1. You’re only concerned because you heard about the kids doing that at rainbow parties.

  9. I have done bath salts, many different kinds. I have also done the pure compounds. They are not dangerous when used responsibly. These could be very valuable pharmaceuticals. THEY ARE NOT HALLUCINOGENS. Don’t fall for Bath Salt Madness.

  10. But let’s say bath salts are in fact way worse than all those other drugs combined, as prohibitionists insist (for now). Doesn’t that raise questions about the judgment of policy makers who decided to ban the safer stimulants with which bath salts compete?

    Jacob, are you crazy? Those “safer stimulants” are much more dangerous than sitting at home quietly contemplating the Bible. How could you advocate making any of them legal?

    1. Hey those Bibles aren’t as safe you think.

  11. Proof that bath salts cause hysteria.

  12. I have heard about this Sober College place. It’s not your ordinary rehab.

  13. While the sample size may be biased, as an employee of a major urban ER I can confidently state that the patients here for bath salt abuse are typically in FAR worse shape than those who’ve OD’ed on other drugs.

    Granted, there is no way to remove confounding factors from my observances. I’m just saying that those of you who’re so skeptical should go spend some time observing these people.

    1. First off, how many are dead? There’s plenty of stories of Heroin ODs that result in death, and you can’t much worse than dead.
      Secondly, how big is your sample? How many of them are known (and I mean KNOWN) to have abused bath salts?
      Finally, you know what? People will ‘abuse’ just about anything. Should we make rubbing alcohol illegal?

      1. heroin OD, like any opioid OD is always a risk primarily due to opioid’s respiratory suppression

        that’s a “known known”

        bath salts are a “known unknown”

        the problem with heroin is the imprecise dosing. if people KNOW what purity they were getting, and are reasonably cautious, risk of death is near nil.

        most heroin OD’s are either the person gets a much purer heroin than they got before OR they tried to go clean for a while, lost their tolerance, and then take a dose that prior to their losing their tolerance, they could handle, but now becomes deadly.

        i have seen 60 yr old men taking opioid dosages that don’t even make them high, that could kill somebody with low tolerance. because that tolerance was built up over decades.

        with bath salts, this very well MAY be hysteria. or it very well may not be. the problem is the drug warriors have cried wolf with “safe’ drugs like MJ, and reasonably safe drugs like cocaine, such that when and if a drug appears taht IS really fucking bad, nobody believes them

        i concur with the above poster, in that i have spoken to ER personnel (since i spend so much fucking time there) and they are seeing similar fuckupedness vis a vis bath salts.

        also, at least from what i hear amongst druggies, bath salt use is far less common than heroin/opioid usage, yet the # and severity of adverse occurrences are pretty fucking scary.

        the govt. and the drug warriors have MASSIVELY overplayed the risks of MJ, four loko, cocaine, crack cocaine, meth (although meth is way worse than cocaine…), ephedrine, etc. etc. etc.

        that’s what hysterical anti-drug warriors DO

        however, that does not mean that bath salts aren’t really fucking bad, or even as bad as they claim.

        opioids and other depressants and stimulants (which meth, ecstacy etc. are) have literally hundreds of years of observed usage.

        bath salts are totally synthetic shit we know next to nothing about.

        1. Thats not entirely true. They just keep referring to them as bath salts instead of the name Shulgin gave the compound decades ago, “methylone”. Although it would be more appropriate to call it MDMC, except that name was already taken. It’s also known as ectasy lite.

          1. actually, there are several different compounds that fall under the imprecise term “bath salts”

        2. Seeing as how you’re a government agent helping execute the war on drugs, I’ll take your second hand anecdotes with a grain of (bath)salt.

          1. yawn… i’m also a govt agent that thinks the WOD is wrong, and is against it.

            but whatzever

            1. Then quit, narc.

              1. why? i am not a narc.

                i am a cop. drug enforcement is a tiny part of my job

                i am against the WOD, but it is part of my job

                just like it is for physicians or pharmacists.

                i have a friend in med school is also anti-wod. should he quit?

                because when he gets his DEA #, he will be a mandatory reporter for certain drug crimes

                1. My god, will you stop with this bullshit false equivalency already? It gets torn to shreds every time you bring it up. If your doctor friend reports someone for fraud (ie prescription forgeries), then that his right. If he reports someone to the DEA for anything else, he should absolutely quit, since he obviously doesn’t believe in the principle of “do no harm” above the principle of “drugs are bad, mmmkay”.

                  I’d further say that every damn doctor who thinks sending armed thugs after someone for putting an unapproved molecule in their own bodies should quit immediatly. And good riddance.

                  Now cut that shit out. You embarass yourself with it’s continued usage.

                  1. there’s no false equivalency. we both, as a condition of our employment have to participate in the WOD

                    like i said, AT LEAST 1/2 the calls we get regarding narc violations come from MD’s and pharmacists.

                    neither i, nor many dr’s think sending armed “thugs” after people for putting stuff in their body is good policy.

                    clearly, some cops and some doc’s DO

                    but regardless, i am expected to enforce (certain) drug laws and physicians are too, if they want to keep their DEA # and license.

                    and they DO.

                    again, at least 1/2 the narc cases we get are because of prescription fraud reported by dr’s or pharmacists.

                    1. Its almost like you didn’t read anything after the first sentence I wrote. Let me simplify it for you, in a way that even you can’t miss the point:

                      Reporting people for fraud is not the same thing as throwing people in jail for putting an unapproved molecule in their own body


                    2. if you walk up to a pharmacist with a fake prescription and the money to pay for the drugs he can…

                      1) say “fuck off” … in this way, he does not contribute to the WOD
                      2) say “hold on a sec” , take the prescription from you, call 911 and tell you to wait while it’s being filled, when in fact you aren’t filling but are waiting for police to come, take your signed statement for prosecution, and then haul that guy off

                      pharmacists do #2.

                      resulting in the exact same result as if johnny law arrested them for having those drugs illegally.

                      so, they most definitely are analogous situations


                    3. iow, falsely telling the person you are helping them when in fact you take their script as evidence and call the police on them and then tell you (falsely) to wait while you fill it is ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING IN THE WOD just as much as johnny law is by arresting you when he gets there.


                    4. Christ. The stupid; it burns.

                      A prescription with a name on it of someone who didn’t write it is fraud. If they call the cops for a reason that’s not fraud, then they are in the wrong just as much as the cops who arrest people for ingesting unapproved molecules.

                      It’s not a difficult concept. You’re just commited to not seeing it. Since you’re so determined to keep your head up your ass, I guess there’s nothing left to say. But I will keep posting how wrong you are, every time you use that bullshit false equivalency, for the benefit of others who don’t need these lies to help them sleep at night.

                    5. attempting to utter a forged script is ATTEMPTED fraud, but as long as the pharmacist takes the script and PRETENDS he is filling it, while he in fact actively participates in the drug war by telling the person he is filling it, but in fact calls the police, so he can have the person arrested and turn over the fake script as evidence and provide a statement to police to assist in prosecution, he is

                      i 100% agree that if he just says “fuck off, that script is forged and i am not taking it”, he would not be actively participating

                      if he creates a ruse specifically for the purpose of having the person arrested, which is what pharmacists DO, then he is an active participant in the drug war


                    6. If they do this, then they are assholes, and are no more libertarian than you. Not sure why you think this helps your case.

                  2. unapproved molecule in their own bodies is the right thing to do should quit

        3. Well, not one word of that (dunphy|12.28.11 @ 5:51PM) answered a single one of my questions.
          And then this:
          “actually, there are several different compounds that fall under the imprecise term “bath salts””
          Suggests pretty strongly that the government has no business putting out scare stories about “bath salts”.

          1. what the hell questions are you talking about?

            again, don’t assume i am saying i agree with a ban on bath salts.

            read what i wrote again, if you think i am saying that.

          2. Dammit Sevo, quit being a fucking racist BIGOT!

            Dunphy has a job that entails a lot of lying to the public and is armed with second hand anecdotes; if we can’t trust that what can we trust!?

            1. the govt can put out all the stories it wants, but without a media to repeat them, they are just blowin’ in the wind

              regardless, the point is bath salts MAY be as dangerous as they (and the ER docs i have talked to) claim it is

              or not…

              you have no idea whatsoever, you just reflexively jump to a conclusion based on your preferred metanarrative

              just like you do in other instances where you have a similar bias

  14. More you ban the more ways we will find to get fucked up. Being sentient almost demands it.

    1. this is, imo, one of the reasons why the drug war is so fucked up.

      in that, people will make designer drugs that are often substantially more dangerous than the drugs that are banned, thus increasing harm.

      1. thus increasing harm

        feature not bug

        1. why? shouldn’t people be able to seek whatever high they seek in a safe(r) manner?

          1. If you’re going to disobey, the consequences ought to be painfully self-evident.

      2. I think the drug warriors are also afraid that without a war on drugs, people will make designer drugs that are substantially safer and less addictive.

  15. President Gary Johnson will stamp out the bath salt and adderall menaces.

  16. IIRC, the people who had “problems” with bath salts, were the ones that got 2C-E instead of Mephedrone, according to Erowid. It would be like smoking dust when you thought you were smoking regular weed.

    1. nice source, btw. erowid is one of my favorite sites. pretty good signal/noise ratio and lots of good info in general

      1. Yeah. They are the real deal. A lot of what they have to say comes direct from PIHKAL and TIHKAL, and the good doctor and his wife.

        1. Microgram is pretty good too!

  17. Keep the bath salts legal. Throw anyone who uses the dripping blood font in irons. Ten extra years for using the hipster irony defense.

  18. That actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. WOw.


  19. It’s not so much the War on Drugs as it is the War on Anything That Makes Me Feel Good that the Government Doesn’t Get a Piece Of. Regulate it, you morons!

  20. dunphy:

    If docs and pharmds don’t report druggies then I’ll take away everything they have worked for and then throw them in prison for a few decades!

    And because they report druggies they’re just as bad as me!


    1. i’m not “bad”, but that’s not the point

      if pharmacists engage in a ruse to keep the person attempting to pass the forged script AT THE PHARMACY while they call police, and then assist in prosecution by providing a statement for prosecution, they are active participants in the drug war

      and that’s what they do

  21. if you walk up to a pharmacist with a fake prescription and the money to pay for the drugs he can…

    1) say “fuck off” … in this way, he does not contribute to the WOD

    I like how dunphy the psychic detective knows that no libertarian pharmacists do this. I’m glad that he trusts his abilities enough to make blanket statements like this:

    2) say “hold on a sec” , take the prescription from you, call 911 and tell you to wait while it’s being filled, when in fact you aren’t filling but are waiting for police to come, take your signed statement for prosecution, and then haul that guy off

    pharmacists do #2.

    I feel much safer knowing that a guy who’s area of expertise is swinging barbells around (and NOT usage of firearms)is out there using his outerworldly abilities and weightlifting knowledge to keep us all safe from villainous prescription fraudsters.

    God bless.

    1. 1)i didn’t say NO pharmacists do this, i said pharmacists routinely do this, and it makes them an active participant in the WOD

      2) only an ignoramus would call olympci style weightlifting, just swinging barbells around. that’s like saying throwing a javelin is just hucking pointy sticks around

      3) i could not give a flying fuck if people commit prescription fraud. as long as they PAY for the drugs, i think it’s a victimless crime.

      however, it’s also a felony drug crime and when called to my attention, i will investigate it and arrest/charge if there is sufficient evidence

      because that’s what the rule of law demands for such felony drug crimes.

      big fucking deal

      get over yourself.

  22. If the human race is going to be this fucking stupid, I am going to enjoy watching it go down the toliet.

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