Two N.J. legislators to introduce bill banning 'bath salts' drug


Two N.J. legislators to introduce bill banning 'bath salts' drug

Published: Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 10:14 AM     Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2011, 10:39 AM
bath-salts.JPGStudio shots of C Original, TranQuility and White Lady, which are all bath salts apparently being used by some to get high. All three were purchased for about $85 in New Brunswick.

TRENTON — Two state Assembly members will introduce legislation aimed at stopping the sale of “bath salts,” legal powders that give users a high not unlike that of methamphetamine.

News of the bill, which Deputy Speaker John McKeon (D-Essex) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union) plan to introduce soon, comes after the slaying of a Rutgers University senior allegedly killed by her long-time boyfriend – a Cranford man whose mother says her mentally ill son was using “bath salts” in recent months.

Since William Parisio began using the powders, widely available at convenience stores around the country, the bipolar 22-year-old — until this semester a Rutgers student — began descending into a world of paranoia he feared he may never escape, his mother Diane Parisio, told The Star-Ledger on Tuesday. She said she spoke in hopes of warning others, not in defense of her son.

The man is charged with murder in the death of Pamela Schmidt, his long-time girlfriend whose body police found in the basement of the Parisio home on Sunday afternoon.

"The recent tragedy is deadly proof of the devastation that can be caused when dangerous drugs are masqueraded as bath salts and are openly available to the public, especially our youth who are the highest users of such hallucinogenic substances," McKeon said.


The legislation McKeon and Stender say they will introduce would criminalize both possession and sale of any products containing substances that include mephedrone or methylenedioxpyrovalerone, commonly known as MDPV. Those and other chemicals are among the active ingredients used in “bath salts,” which cost $20-$50 and are snorted, smoked or ingested.

The Star-Ledger easily purchased the powders on Tuesday at a shop on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick, near Rutgers University's College Avenue campus. One shop clerk was happy to haggle over price and explained which variety was the strongest. At another store, a clerk said they had sold out of “bath salts.”

The measure soon to be proposed in the Assembly would make it a crime of the third-degree to manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess products containing those two chemicals in New Jersey, the Assembly members said. Those charged would face three to five years in prison, and up to $15,000 in fines, they said.

"Such a (flagrant) deception of the public by using bath salts as a cover compounds the crime of drug peddling,” Stender said. "We are determined to move forward to get these dangerous products off the shelves and out of reach of our youth."

Available in “head shops,” gas stations and other places, the powders are sold under slick monikers like Cloud Nine, White Lightning or Ivory Wave.

Experts are adamant that “bath salts,” despite any lack of clinical evidence, are a massively dangerous substance. It’s been tied to incidents of self-mutilation, at least one suicide and violence against others, the experts said.

"From our brief experience this is a very dangerous drug that is at least, if not more, dangerous than methamphetamines," said Zane Horowitz, medical director at the Oregon Poison Center.

Staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.