Sen. Robert Casey has renewed his battle for federal legislation outlawing bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
The Pennsylvania Democrat’s office released a statement Tuesday. He spoke of a letter he has written to top-ranking senators and representatives, urging them to pass a permanent national ban on the synthetic drugs.
Communities in Cambria County have been dealing with increased use of bath salts, which are synthetic stimulants that can lead to erratic behavior by users.
According to the WebMD website, incidents of bath salts use have resulted in thousands of calls to poison centers across the nation. The drug can cause agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, chest pain and suicidal thoughts.
The website says chemicals commonly used to make bath salts include mephedrone, MDPV and methylone. But newer derivatives are being made by illegal street chemists in an attempt to get around the laws that make them illegal.
Police from the Cresson area said they saw a marked increase in bath salts incidents after Blair County officials cracked down on the sale and use of the substance.
A state law banning the manufacture, sale and use of bath salts took effect a year ago.
Users now are purchasing the product from Maryland and West Virginia as well as over the Internet, Portage borough police Chief Ed Miller said recently.
Portage and Summerhill townships also have recently seen incidents linked to bath salts, including a woman who said she set her house on fire after ingesting the substance.
“The horrible acts of bath salts-induced violence are a call to action to protect Pennsylvania’s communities from this harmful substance,” Casey said.
He is urging the Senate and House to include provisions regarding bath salts in the final bill sent to the president for his signature.
The Senate passed a Casey-supported provision as part of the Federal Drug Administration reauthorization bill to ban the drugs, but the House-passed version of the FDA bill did not include the anti-drug provision.
House and Senate leaders are negotiating a compromise FDA bill.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.
Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.