Thursday, June 16, 2011
A ban on hallucinogenic chemicals known as “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana is headed to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s desk, and his spokesman, Kevin Harley, says the governor will sign the measure into law.
The unanimous Senate vote came days after the House approved the measure. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association had pushed for a statewide ban. Executive Director Richard Long says municipal and county laws weren’t enough. “[Abuse of bath salts has] taken off dramatically. Just really in the last six to nine months, the numbers have grown exponentially, literally. And it’s hit certain parts of the state harder than others,” he said, adding eastern and central Pennsylvania have seen more problems than the western part of the state.
A growing number of municipalities and counties had instituted bans, but Long said a statewide measure will be more effective. He added the new law will help solve two big problems. “First it was the synthetic marijuana. That was a problem. Then the bath salts came in, and the conduct of people – the behavior of people taking the bath salts became an even bigger issue than the people using synthetic marijuana. It was more outrageous, more dangerous behavior with the people talking bath salt.”
The law creates a penalty of up to five years in prison for possession of bath salts, with intent to sell. Users would face fines, and up to a year behind bars.