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How Maryland is Cracking Down on ‘Bath Salts,’ ‘Spice,’ Other Designer Drugs

An expert explains how legislation makes possession of prohibited active ingredients a violation of state law.

Are these crystals for softening bath water or a banned synthetic drug? (Photo Credit: Tammy Hanratty/Corbis)
Are these crystals for softening bath water or a banned synthetic drug? (Photo Credit: Tammy Hanratty/Corbis)

A surge in the use of designer drugs, also known as synthetic drugs, has prompted a ban on some items that used to be widely available. There are mixed messages about what is legal and what’s not in Maryland after new guidelines went into effect Oct. 1.

The crystal substance known as “bath salts” is a banned synthetic drug that reportedly mimics the effects of taking cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine. (To learn more about bath salts, check out this YouTube video posted a year ago by the U.S. Navy.) Synthetic marijuana known as K2 or Spice is also part of the ban.

Annapolis-based attorney and blogger Drew Cochran explains what the state is doing to crack down on these drugs in his blog: New Rules Toughen Penalties for Synthetic Drug Use in Maryland.

“Simply put, they are popular alternatives to traditional street drugs (e.g., marijuana, cocaine) which have only recently been added to the federal Controlled Substances Act,” wrote Cochran in his blog.

Cochran said that Maryland Senate Bill 109 doesn’t just outlaw specific drugs.

“The new Maryland legislation broadens the scope of law enforcement by making possession (for whatever reason) of any of the prohibited active ingredients a violation of state law, subject to fine, imprisonment, or both,” according to Cochran.

In some instances, it’s possible that people might not realize they are doing anything illegal when they purchase items out of state.

“The issue of synthetic drugs is not an exact science, so to speak. It's possible, for example, that someone may bring compounds purchased legally in another jurisdiction across state lines only to discover (usually too late) that they are in violation of Maryland law,” Cochran wrote.

Click here to read more from Cochran’s blog about synthetic drugs.


Pam Hamburg December 13, 2013 at 09:24 AM
While I do agree with making synthetic drugs illegal (they are horrible), I disagree with making possession of just one or two ingredients illegal.

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