Bath Salts sound harmless enough. People use bath salts around the world as a therapeutic treatment for aches, pains, and stiffness after a long day. However, there are two distinctly different kinds of bath salts; bath salts for the bath tub and “bath salts" that are now a controlled substance in Texas. A common misconception about the illegal kind is that it is the same as the bath salts in the personal care isle at the grocery store. Bath salts are a designer drug, mixing several different dangerous substances, in varying proportions, and varying strengths depending on the brand. Like ecstasy, drug manufacturers can create unique bath salt recipes and market them with distinct packaging, shapes, and colors to increase the popularity of their products.
Bath salts are a dangerous designer drug, made of a few key ingredients: cathinones and pain killers, and other synthetic cathinones. Cathinone is a naturally occurring substance in the African shrub Catha Edulis, also known as khat. Cathinone is a stimulant similar to ephedrine, and is a psychoactive but not hallucinogenic drug. In Israel it is actually branded and sold as hagigat, an energy drink and mood enhancer. However, cathinone has been illegal in the United States since 1993 when the DEA declared it a Schedule I controlled substance. Bath salts can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, or injected by users. They earned their name from their uncanny resemblance to bath salts, but they also resemble cocaine and crystal meth in appearance.
The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/multimedia/bath-salts/) is the United States government’s official drug policy that states which drugs should be controlled, to what extent, and also decrees punishment parameters. Controlled substances are broken down into different classes ranging from a class I controlled substance to a class V controlled substance, with class I carrying the most severe sentencing and fines. Bath salts are included in this group because they have no accepted medical use, they have a very high potential of abuse among users, and because there is no safe way to use them. Other well known drugs in the class I controlled substance category are cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, marijuana, and GHB (date rape drug).
The possible sentence for a first time offender found guilty of trafficking bath salts could easily increase to the extent of a life sentence if a prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt multiple sales and/or a conspiracy have occurred. Even a skilled Texas drug lawyer (http://www.cohendwilawyer.com/houston-drug-charges.html) might flinch during jury deliberations, considering the hefty fines and possible sentencing terms of a class I controlled substance. Fines for a bath salt conviction range from $10,000 to $100,000. Conviction of a bath salt charge can also lead to a prison sentence ranging from 6 months to 99 years in prison. The possibility of a jail sentence like that would make any defendant or defense lawyer shake in their boots.
The inclusion of bath salts in the Texas controlled substance list is intended to keep this dangerous drug off of the streets. As of January 2012, 43 states made the possession, sale, manufacturing, or distribution of bath salts illegal. While some might argue about the need for such severe sentencing for bath salts, others argue that they are more dangerous than they seem. Because bath salts have become such a popular drug almost overnight, researchers have not had enough time to conduct thorough research of the long-term effects of the drug. However, researchers know enough about it to classify it as dangerous and highly addictive. Bath salts are finally illegal in Texas too, but there are still a handful of other states that have not criminalized the drug.