TSD Memphis

Thu04172014

News

‘Bath salts,’ other drugs becoming moving target

I have written previously in these pages about the various synthetic drugs that are emerging in Tennessee and across the country, including packets of materials that are advertised as bath salts.
 
 Sen. Reginald Tate

I have written previously in these pages about the various synthetic drugs that are emerging in Tennessee and across the country, including packets of materials that are advertised as bath salts. This week, the national media picked up on stories like that of a Mississippi man who cut himself repeatedly with a skinning knife after getting high on the chemicals. Another woman in the state is believed to have overdosed on bath salts, and a Louisiana man committed suicide under the influence of the drug.

The country is just now awakening to the danger of these chemicals, the active ingredients of which can have effects stronger than methamphetamines. Louisiana outlawed the drugs through an emergency order after its poison center received more than 125 calls since October last year. States across the South, including Mississippi and Kentucky, now have legislation pending that would ban the sale of the substances.

I want to do the same in Tennessee. Last year I passed legislation to ban various versions of synthetic cocaine and marijuana, including those known as “K2” and “Spice,” which can often produce side effects worse than those of the real things. Banning dangerous substances through legislation is nothing new in the state. Five years ago – before I was elected – the state legislature outlawed the use of salvia, a hallucinogen that Tucson shooter Jared Loughner reportedly used frequently.

Some will argue that there will always be some form of substance abuse in our society, whether it’s alcohol, hard drugs, household chemicals or something previously thought to be harmless. In a way, they’re right: Legislation alone will never be enough to ensure that our children make the right choice and stay away from dangerous drugs. Public information campaigns, an informed judicial system and adequate recovery services must accompany any efforts to fight substance abuse.

That’s why recent media reports are so critical to raising awareness of the very real threat that these drugs pose. In banning the consumption of salvia, my former colleague Tim Burchett noted that he “believe(d) in closing the barn door before the cows get out.” While I’m not one to use a lot of farm metaphors, the sentiment is spot-on. We must act before the potential risk of widespread injury and death turns into a frightening reality. Outlawing these dangerous substances is the first step in our continual pursuit of what is quickly becoming a moving target.

(Senator Reginald Tate represents portions of Memphis and Shelby County. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (615) 741-2509 or 320 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243-0033.)

Add comment


Security code
Refresh