Concentrated Bath Salts Create Danger for Valley Users

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Federal lawmakers are working to prevent another substance from turning into a growing drug problem.

The bill would make it illegal to buy or sell concentrated bath salts, which are said to be designer drugs that resemble cocaine.

In Virginia, bath salts are not illegal. Virginia State Police say they're keeping a watchful eye on the situation in the Valley.

One salt is called TranQuility, and it's offered in a small blue container. When ingested, snorted or injected, RUSH Drug Task Force Special Agent Tom Murphy says it has an effect on the body that's not healthy.

"The problem is it has the same effects as cocaine and [meth], typically a euphoria feeling, a stimulant," says Murhpy.

However, a Harrisonburg woman, who witnessed a person she cares for suffer from the salt, says there's a difference.

"This stupid little thing could have killed a person that I love so much. If someone took all this, I'm sure they'd die," says the woman.

She says the powder is so dangerous it had someone she knows sick for days.

Because of her incident, the woman did not want to be identified, but she says, "It's not labeled correctly. It's labeled like bath salts, so when you look at it, it looks like it's name, but it's not bath salt at all."

Dr. Andy Baer, a toxicologist at Rockingham Memorial Hospital, says there's seen a spike in patients coming into the emergency room who are violent and showing signs of an overdose.

"A lot of these people are not coming in euphoric. They're coming in with the toxic effects, like high blood pressure, fevers, seizures," explains Baer.

WHSV News 3 worked to find how easy it is to find these bath salts. Four stores said they didn't have bath salts. However, it was only a matter of finding the right store.

Bath salts can be purchased online, too. One site had testimonials. Some describe feeling on top of the world for four days, with no sleep. Others say they can't believe this is legal.

However, lawmakers at both the state and federal level are working to make bath salts illegal. Like meth and cocaine, police say it's moving east from the West Coast. Some lawmakers even call it an epidemic.

Murphy says certain stores in the Valley are already on the radar. The RUSH Drug Task Force knows they carry these so-called salts.

He says those will be paid a visit if and when the substance becomes illegal.

Until then, Murhpy says, just because a product legal, doesn't mean it's safe.

These products contain chemical ingredients that are not found in "real" bath salts like Epsom Salt and similar products.