Waiting for the Next Great "Scariest Drug Ever"

| by Reason Foundation

By Jacob Sullum

The Drug Enforcement Administration already hasbanned 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.