By Marc Kovac
State lawmakers thought they had dealt with bath salts and other synthetic drugs last year when they passed legislation banning their sale and consumption.
But it turns out, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told reporters Wednesday, that some savvy chemists have figured out how to skirt the new state law by altering the chemical makeup of such substances, making them technically legal and available for sale under names such as “Bizarro,” “Vanilla Sky” and “OMG.”
“We’re seeing cases involving dangerous synthetic drugs that we can’t prosecute right now, under current law,” DeWine said. “That is very frustrating for me.”
DeWine and other state officials are hoping to change that, via legislation that would place additional prohibitions on synthetic drugs.
“We need to ban entire classes of these dangerous drugs, not specifically named compounds,” DeWine said, adding to those who manufacture or sell synthetic drugs, “We are putting you on notice. We’re coming after you. ... If you persist in having them on the shelves and selling them, we’re going to prosecute you, and we’re going to put you in prison.”
The products are marketed as bath salts, incense or potpourri or sold as a spray that can be smoked or swallowed. The drugs are addictive and can cause psychotic behavior.
DeWine was host to a press conference on the issue Wednesday, then provided testimony later in the day as a proponent of House Bill 334, which includes language that would block chemists from altering a drug’s makeup to continue its legal sale.
DeWine also said his office plans to contact retailers across the state to ask them to refrain from selling the products.
“They’re dangerous; they’re deadly; and they’re really tearing at the fabric of our communities,” DeWine said.