Area law enforcement comes out against bath salt abuse

The Blount County Sheriff’s Office joined with area law enforcement recently to educate local businesses and citizens about the dangers of the designer drug “bath salts.”

On Aug. 26, Sheriff James Lee Berrong, along with Alcoa Police Chief Ken Burge, Maryville Police Chief Tony T. Crisp, and District Attorney General Mike Flynn, began campaigning to educate Blount County citizens about the increased popularity of designer drugs known as “bath salts” and “potpourri,” which are illegal in Tennessee.

Responding to complaints locally from parents and persons responsible for the care of juvenile offenders, today, investigators with the Fifth Judicial Drug Task Force delivered notices to local retail businesses explaining two new laws in Tennessee banning these types of drugs, which contain the chemical compounds methadone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), and may induce dangerous side effects such as intense, prolonged panic attacks, hallucinations, psychosis from sleep withdrawal, rapid heartbeat, and increase in blood pressure.

The drug gives users a high similar to that of cocaine or marijuana. These “bath salts” are available to minors as well as adults in gas stations, convenience stores and on the Internet. The salts are marketed under the names Tranquility, Vanilla Sky, Blue Silk, and Ivory Wave, to name just a few. They began entering the country last year from Europe, and are now turning up nationwide in convenience stores, truck stops and tattoo shops. The labels on the packages do not have the actual ingredients on their package.

These illegal “bath salts” are in no way connected to Epsom salts and other skin-softening products. Tennessee’s new laws make it an offense to knowingly produce, manufacture, distribute, sell, offer for sale or possess with intent to produce, manufacture, distribute, sell, or offer for sale any capsule, pill, or other product composed of or containing any amount of the derivatives in these “bath salts.” Several other states, including Florida, Utah, Vermont, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Alabama, have also banned the stimulant.

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