October 9, 2011

Southern Maine braces for bath salts

The drug, which induces paranoid hallucinations in users, is migrating from Bangor, where it hit first.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

Bangor police say these small bags containing a powerful drug known as bath salts were confiscated in recent weeks. The packaging has changed since Maine outlawed the sale of the stimulant, which was originally sold in retail stores in packages marked “bath salts.”

Courtesy Bangor Police Department

click image to enlarge

The real marketing takes place on the Internet and by word of mouth, with dealers and users promoting the powder as a cheap, easy-to-find and powerful way to get high, police say.

Also known as kryptonite, the designer drug is created in a lab with one of several strong stimulants, including methylenedioxypyrovalerone, or MDPV. It is three times more potent than cocaine, police say, and highly addictive.

"They start and they just can't stop," said Roy McKinney, director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Maine banned the sale of the compounds in July, and it added tough new penalties for simply possessing the drug -- up to a year in jail for a first offense -- in late September. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has banned it for one year starting last Friday, and Congress is now moving to permanently ban it nationwide.

The crackdown has gotten the drug out of retail stores in Maine, but not off the streets or the Internet, police say. It is no longer packaged primarily as commercial bath salts, but is now generally distributed in small, resealable plastic bags with a variety of printed designs, Reagan said.

Police say, even with the new laws, education about the drug and its dangers is the best way to control its spread. "We're never going to arrest ourselves out of it," Wardrop said.

Clukey used the drug for about three weeks during the summer, he said. His heart raced and he went days without eating or sleeping. Soon, he started hearing things and seeing things. It gradually made him so paranoid he thought his friends were turning against him and that people were hiding behind the shower curtain in the bathroom.

He eventually roamed his neighborhood for hours, hiding in the woods from people he believed were chasing him.

"I literally couldn't get out of my own head," Clukey said.

He thought about suicide but instead told his mother, who helped him get into a detox center and treatment program. He spent the summer in treatment at Serenity House in Portland.

"The bath salts are the scariest thing I ever did," he said. "That was the last straw for me."

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

jrichardson@pressherald.com

 

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