Terms like “bath salts”, K2 and Spice have completely different meanings these days. K2 no longer only refers to a ski and snowboard manufacturer and “bath salts” no longer convey images of a relaxing aroma coming from a warm bath.
Today these words imply fake marijuana and fake cocaine, and until recently were legal to buy and use in Washington State.
These synthetic drugs did hit local smoke shops but Lake Stevens Police have taken them off the shelves of the three smoke and tobacco stores within the city.
After a 30-year-old Lake Stevens man overdosed on these fake drugs on May 27, Lake Stevens Police Detective Dennis Irwin was confiscating them from store shelves by June 3. Luckily, the man lived through his ordeal.
“It kind of went under the radar because we hadn’t had any incidents until the overdose on May 27,” Irwin said. “By June 3, I was taking things out of the stores. We seized 287 products within the three local shops.”
On April 15, 2011 the Washington State Board of Pharmacy approved language to amend WAC 246-887-100 of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act which bans the chemicals used in bath salts and synthetic marijuana. These fake drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. The emergency rule makes it illegal to sell, possess, manufacture and deliver these chemicals or products.
Irwin explained that these drugs became popular in Europe in the early part of the century and made it to the U.S. in 2009. Since then emergency rooms across the country and the state have seen increases in users seeking medical attention after partaking of the drugs.
Fake marijuana is typically smoked while bath salts are most commonly snorted but can be injected and ingested.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the use of “bath salts” has lead to 1,511 trips to emergency rooms as of April this year, compared to just 302 cases in all of 2010. Between January and March of this year, there were 2,120 cases of poisonings from synthetic marijuana compared to 155 cases in the same period in 2010.
The Everett Herald reported last Friday that, “As of late June, the Washington Poison Center had seen about 76 calls involving Bath Salts this year. The center had one call about bath salts in 2010… They had nearly 90 calls about Spice last year and about 70 so far this year.”
The Washington Poison Center explains the effects of K2 and Spice and other synthetic marijuanas. The drugs create “euphoric and psychoactive effects that imitate marijuana and are among the numerous compounds found in “herbal” incense or smoke blends.”
Dr. Suzan Mazor, a Board Certified Toxicologist and an Associate Medical Director for the Washington Poison Center tells us that “some patients have effects similar to marijuana high, others develop symptoms that bring them to the ER like rapid heart rate, paranoia, agitation, high blood pressure and elevated temperature.”
Bath salt use creates some of the same symptoms.
These drugs are, “a stimulant drug with effects like amphetamines or cocaine, including hallucinations, delusions, agitation, high blood pressure, headache and suicidal thoughts. There have been reports of violent encounters with patients high on bath salts.”
Mazor goes on to say that, “Deaths have been reported, and there synthesis is completely unregulated, so very dangerous.”
Lake Stevens Police are ensuring that these fake drugs stay off of store shelves here and have sent collected samples to the Washington State Patrol for testing.
“The shop owners have been more than supportive,” Detective Irwin said.