Bath salts are becoming a nightmare for police and public officials.
"It's a growing problem and we're all recognizing it," Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon said.
Lauzon has been battling a bath salt addiction in his city for more than a year. Now he's concentrating his efforts on the vendors.
"I just want to have a conversation with them about what they're selling and what it's doing to our community and quite frankly give them the opportunity to voluntarily stop. If they don't want to do that, I will continue to be all up in their face," Lauzon said.
We tried to talk to a smoke shop in Barre. We were asked to leave.
The governor thought a statewide ban last year on the four active ingredients in bath salts would take care of the problem.
"Then these manufacturers and creeps go out and frankly put new ingredients in that suddenly make our rules no longer pertinent," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
And those new formulations are still just as dangerous. What used to be called bath salts now go by names like Final Cut and Amp. Even though they're legal to buy, the powdery substances still cause kidney failure and cardiac arrest. So the governor is working with the Vt. Health Department to draft a more effective emergency ban by the end of the week.
"This emergency rule will add over 30 bath salt-type compounds and we're also adding a generic description of the class of compounds, so that we can hopefully stay ahead of manufacturers who are tweaking chemicals to make them fall outside of what we have on our list," said Sarah Vose of the Vt. Health Department.
"We want to make sure we have rules in Vermont that are broad enough so that any police officer in this state can go in bust any store owner selling this junk," Shumlin said.
Officials admit it won't be easy to compete with the chemical manufacturers skilled in morphing their products around the language of the law. But they're confident it's a problem they can stamp out if they don't back down.
"You stay ahead of it by continually amending and changing the list of banned substances," Lauzon said.
State health boards will review and approve those 30 additional ingredients that officials want added to the regulated drug list. They'll then hand it off to Health and Human Services Secretary Doug Racine. He's expected to sign off Friday and the governor says he plans to give his approval on July 25.
New Hampshire has done what Vermont is trying to do. They're legislation outlaws a much broader swath of compounds. In New York the attorney general is targeting retailers; suing 16 of them, including two in Plattsburgh, for violating New York's labeling laws which require products list what's in them, where they're made and packed.
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