A U.S. senator praised pending legislation proposing a nationwide ban on "bath salts," a dangerous synthetic drug that officials believe led to the recent "zombie apocalypse" bloodbath in Miami where Rudy Eugene ate most of Ronald Poppo's face.
"Dangerous drugs like bath salts are terrorizing communities and destroying lives," Sen. Chris Coons (D) said Monday. "Stricter measures must be taken to stem the growing prevalence of bath salts and other new designer drugs."
Bath salts were on the rise long before Eugene (below) struck.
A number of calls to poison centers concerning "bath salts" rose 6,138 in 2011 from 304 in 2010, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
More than 1,000 calls have been made so far this year.
These so-called bath salts, not to be confused with aromatherapy / cleansing products, are an inexpensive, synthetic, super-charged form of speed.
The drug consists of a potpourri of constantly changing chemicals, three of which - mephedrone, MDPV and methylone - are banned by the DEA.
Bath salts are easily available online, and come in brand names such as "Purple Wave," "Zoom" or "Cloud Nine." A 50-milligram pack sells for $25-50.The drugs create a condition officials call "excited delirium" that makes users paranoid, violent and unpredictable ... as Miami police know all too well.
An officer shot and killed Rudy Eugene a week ago after he was allegedly feasting on the face of Ronald Poppo, a homeless man, on a busy highway.
Police are investigating whether the drugs found in bath salts were in the alleged attacker's system; that may not be confirmed for a few weeks.
This case is not the first time police have had to respond to people high on the drug committing illegal acts or exhibiting dangerous behavior.
In July 2010, Carey Shane Padgett of Roanoke County, Va., allegedly beat his friend Cara Marie Holley to death. He later claimed he took bath salts.
In April 2011, investigators determine that Army Sgt. David Stewart was under the influence of bath salts when he killed himself, his wife and their son.
Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said he was disturbed by the affects on an unidentified Florida teen who he witnessed high on bath salts.
In most cases, the active ingredients are a central nervous system stimulant that acts something like a mix of methamphetamine and cocaine.
It's a dangerous situation, leading to a high that some drug abuse experts describe as up to 13 times more potent than cocaine. The altered mental status it brings can lead to panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and violent behavior.
The Senate passed legislation last month to make the sale of bath salts illegal, and Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged "the House-Senate conference committee to preserve the measure during its negotiations this month."