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Newly illegal drugs go up in smoke

As of yesterday, Ohioans are no longer allowed to possess, sell or manufacture chemicals found in “bath salts” and synthetic cannabinoids, both of which obtain chemicals that produce similar effects to that of marijuana.

The synthetic recreational drugs, marketed as “bath salts,” “K2” or “spice,” have been sold legally at convenience and tobacco shops in the past. In July, Gov. John Kasich approved the law eventually banning the drugs.  

The substances will be treated as any other drug by law enforcement, said Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly. Selling and possessing the drugs will carry charges similar to other illegal substances, depending on the quantity and other factors, he added.

“It is now against the law to possess these products,” said Kelly, adding law enforcement officers, including the Narcotics Enforcement Team, will “fight” against the drugs.

Deputies have checked two convenience stores in the county since the law went into affect yesterday and have yet to find any “salts” or “spices,” he said.

Kelly also said he doesn’t anticipate the change posing much of a problem for Athens County. In contrast, Washington County has shown a much larger possession trend, he added.

The legislation classifies the bath salts along with heroin and marijuana as Schedule 1 controlled substances, according to the Ohio Revised Code. Opiates and cocaine are classified as Schedule 2 substances, and there are five total schedules.

K2 or Spice contains organic leaves coated with chemicals that provide a marijuana-like high when smoked, and the salts are crystallized chemicals typically snorted or injected that provide a cocaine-like high, said Sen. Dave Burke, R-26, a joint sponsor of the legislation.

Burke, who is also a pharmacist, said the substances have been known to cause reactions including hallucinations, paranoia, severe agitation and seizures, and that bath salts reportedly have been linked to deaths in Ohio.

These drugs are only a part of the drug epidemic that is not only being fought in Athens County but across the country, Kelly said.

“For every drug banned, another pops up,” said Kelly. “It’s a major problem in our society and only adds to our endless war on drugs.”


The Associated Presscontributed to this article

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