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Joplin police increasing focus on abuse of 'bath salts' - KOAM TV 7

Joplin police increasing focus on abuse of 'bath salts'

Posted: Updated: June 5, 2012 05:52 PM

Local law enforcement increases their efforts to control a synthetic drug abuse problem.

Joplin police say the use of "bath salts" appears to be on the rise.

Bath salts hit the market in Joplin about a year ago but more recently their proving to be a dangerous issue and it's one that law enforcement is having a tough time cracking down on.

"They're being sold in the convenient stores, and head shops and seems to be over the Internet, it's something that's popped up here in the last year," says Cpl. Chuck Neiss of the Joplin Police Department.

When smoked or ingested the substance produces the same affects as cocaine or methamphetamine.  In many cases they cause hallucinations and paranoia.

And Cpl. Neiss says this latest synthetic drug trend is growing.

"There's been a lot of people going to the E.R. in the last several months with the affects of these," Cpl. Neiss says.

"Their heart rate goes up, they get anxious, they get anxious, they get muscle cramps, abdominal cramps, when you're hallucinating you can't tell what's real and what's not real," says Freeman Emergency Room Dr. Frank Veer.

Dr. Veer says users also don't understand the long-term dangers.

"The young people that are using these because they're a  - they're a way to get high without getting in trouble - don't recognize all the time that there are long term health consequences that will affect them the rest of their life," Dr. Veer says.

The three key ingredients used to make bath salts became illegal in Missouri last year.  But local law enforcement say they are still struggling to keep the problem under control, because just as quickly as lawmakers banned the synthetic drug, manufacturers are tweaking the formula and remarketing it without technically breaking the law.

"We've had some raids on the head shops and convenient stores, but one of the last times they seized some they had like 20 packages and one of out the 20 was illegal," says Cpl. Neiss.

Authorities say while those making the drugs may be beating the law, that doesn't make the drugs any less dangerous.

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