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“Bath Salts” – The DEA’s Never-Ending Cat and Mouse Debacle

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Sythentic Cahinones are used to create “bath salts”, “legal” marijuana substitute, and a plethora of other over the counter, not for human consumption products that are increasingly being abused.

There is no question that there is now more variety to the “drug scene” than there was in previous decades. In modern day America, it seems like we hear about a different drug every month that, “All the kids are now experimenting with.” Where previous generations struggled mainly with a handful of dangerous substances, there are now dozens if not hundreds of different types of drugs to watch out for in 2018. One type of drug category that the Drug Enforcement Administration has a particularly hard time policing and removing is that of synthetic cathinones.

What are synthetic cathinones? Synthetic cathinones are human-made drugs that have the chemical “Cathinone” as their active ingredient and chemical base. This chemical comes from the khat plant, which is a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia. The leaves of the khat plant have a mild, stimulating effect, but the leaves are less dangerous until they are synthetically altered in illegal laboratories.

Synthetic cathinones cause a lot of trouble for those who consume them and for those who conversely try to prevent them from being consumed. Synthetically altered cathinones are several times stronger than their natural cathinone form and are even life-threatening in some cases. One could say that synthetic cathinones are the 21st century’s version of hallucinogens, often called “New, psychoactive substances.”

Synthetic cathinones create a never-ending debacle for the Drug Enforcement Administration because manufacturers of synthetic cathinones are constantly changing the ingredients of their products in order to find legal loopholes to sell them in. Synthetic cathinones act as a cheap and easy-to-get substitute for methamphetamine, cocaine, and MDMA, as synthetic cathinones can be sold legally at gas stations, convenience stores, head shops, etc. As soon as the DEA successfully bans one synthetic cathinone, drug makers simply alter the ingredients slightly and slap a new label on the packaging. Suddenly, the drug is legal once again, and the vicious, cyclic ordeal continues.

What Synthetic Cathinones Look Like and How They are Sold

It is very difficult to tell what you are getting with synthetic cathinones, which is another reason why the DEA struggles to police these substances. Even their commonest name, “bath salts” misdirects people into thinking that these drugs are actually something you put in your bath when that actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

Synthetic cathinones are usually white or brown, and they either come as a crystal-like powder or as a small, hardened rock aggregate, also white or brown. What makes them truly elusive and almost impossible for the DEA to police is the fact that synthetic cathinones are labeled, “Not for human consumption.” They will often be sold in packaging that lists them as plant food, phone screen cleaner, fish food, or jewelry cleaner. This has become so ridiculous that people can even buy the stuff online and have it shipped right to their front door if they want.

A Legislative Problem Too

Another factor that constantly thwarts the Drug Enforcement Administration in their efforts to police synthetic cathinones is that, because these drugs are relatively new, they are not yet outlawed and labeled as a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The DEA is able to outlaw certain ingredients that go into synthetic cathinones rather easily, but then the drug makers just change the ingredients and the problem starts all over again.

What absolutely must happen is that the Federal Controlled Substances Act must take action to outlaw all synthetic cathinones of all types, no matter what their ingredients are. For almost a decade now the DEA has been playing this game with drug manufacturers, and it has cost dozens of lives and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Families have been torn asunder, lives have been ruined, and American tax dollars have been spent frivolously, all with little actual progress being made. We must tackle this recent epidemic of synthetic cathinones with preventative campaigns both on the streets and in the legislative offices alike to effect real change here.

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