Something good is coming out from New Jersey’s efforts to ban the sale and use of synthetic drugs; that is, a decline in reported cases related to synthetic marijuana and bath salts.
State Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced on Thursday that the number of reported incidents involving the two drugs has dropped significantly.
“Before we took action to ban these dangerous drugs in New Jersey, they were sold as a so-called ‘legal high’ by shady retailers with no regard for their catastrophic side effects,” Chiesa said in a press release. “Today it is unambiguously clear that, here in New Jersey, synthetic marijuana and ‘bath salts’ are just as illegal as cocaine or heroin. Thankfully, the numbers demonstrate that our bans on these drugs are working.”
New Jersey, on the first quarter of this year, imposed a ban on synthetic drugs — making the possession, sale and manufacture of synthetic marijuana and synthetic stimulants “bath salts” punishable by three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
Less than a year of implementing the initiative, the State Police Office of Forensic Science reported a 77 percent drop in synthetic marijuana incidents. Furthermore, the Poison Control hotline reports that received calls related to synthetic marijuana exposure dropped by a third, while calls about exposure to bath salts declined by 66 percent.
Synthetic drugs have rapidly become an emerging threat to adolescents due to easy accessibility in convenience stores and gas stations. The use of synthetic marijuana and bath salts have been found to cause muscle cell break down, kidney failure, seizures, tremors, anxiety, chest pain, convulsions, hallucinations, and heart palpitations.
Karen Simone, Pharm.D, director and chief toxicologist of the Northern New England Poison Center, explained that bath salts overdose cases “are just very difficult to manage.” She added, “Users are seeing things that aren’t there, they’re paranoid, they’re frightened, and sometimes they’re quite violent.”