Legislators Trying to Ban Synthetic Drugs Face Uphill Battle
“We will ask them [customers] to leave if they even start asking about using it like that,” she said.
Staff are aware that people commonly “do stupid stuff” as Haas put it, with potpourris and bath salts. For this reason, those products are sold differently than the traditional incense sticks and cones, which are available in the all-ages part of the store, she said.
The online retail world is similar to the local market. Psychedelic images marketing synthetic drugs are juxtaposed with official warnings saying not to use them as drugs. It leads to some strange warning labels for taking bath salts, such as on a bag of “Bliss” brand bath salt found at spice-gold-direct.com.
“One application of our bath salts will last for several hours — multiple uses are not necessary,” the online directions states. “Please wait several hours between applications to ensure an optimal bathing experience. After enjoying Bliss for the first time, you will know how best to apply it in the future.”
A personal perspective
In January, Fairbanks resident Justin Cloud said he was tricked by the apparent legality of smoking spice as an alternative to marijuana.
Cloud, 38, said the idea of spice appealed to him because he was trying to get a job as a hydraulics technician on the North Slope, He had heard that unlike marijuana, spice would not turn up in a urine-analysis required for a job. Many former marijuana smokers he knows have made the switch, he said. He also was influenced by his wife, who has a law-enforcement-related job as a mental health counselor and did not approve of his illegal drug use.
But Cloud said his new drug ended up consuming a far bigger part of his life than his old drug.
“It consumes your thoughts, all you want is more and more,” he said. “It’s easy to get, and everyone is smoking it.”
As a marijuana smoker, Cloud estimated he smoked two grams per day of pot. When he switched to spice, which he described as a shorter, more intense high, his consumption first went down then increased significantly. Before long, he was consuming at minimum a $45 10-gram bag of spice per day. His favored brand was “Dr. Feel Good” because it was the strongest, he said.
He said he experienced physical withdrawal symptoms, such as vomiting and nausea, when he stopped smoking the drug and spent two weeks at the Ralph Perdue Center in October for his addiction.
He’s now doing much better, he said. Except for one relapse, he’s been sober since he left Ralph Perdue, he said. Along with his wife, he has become a vocal opponent of the quasi-legal status of spice.
State lawmakers have been trying to make drugs sold as potpourri and bath salts illegal during the past two legislative sessions but often have been stymied by chemists who quickly react to legislation by inventing chemically different products that produce similar results as banned substances.