The synthetic drugs commonly referred to as “Bath Salts” which have been legally sold and purchased nationwide in convenience stores, head-shops, truck stops and on-line through the Internet, will become illegal to possess or sale as of Sept. 1, 2011.

Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 2118 into law, which places several chemicals used to make the drugs into the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Two of the common active ingredients in “Bath Salts” are Mephedrone, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV (synthetic cocaine).

“Bath Salts” are commonly ingested by snorting up the nose, smoked and or injected. “Bath salts” affect the neurotransmitters in the brain and cause intense cravings, paranoia, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and violent behavior.

With the passage of the new law, it will now be illegal to possess or sale any products containing any banned chemicals. The penalties for having these “bath salts” would be a state jail felony for those who have less than one gram, a second-degree felony for possessing one to four grams, and a first-degree felony for possessing four grams or more, but less than 400 grams

Sheriff Merritt supported the bill’s passage and closely monitored the bills progress through local state representatives. Merritt is also proud to say that Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office along with their affiliated Political Action Committee, the Texas Municipal Police Association, were present in Austin at the State Capital for the 82nd Legislative Session and lobbied for the passage of HB 2118.

Merritt said these “Bath Salts” are a serious public health treat to those that consume them and they also tend to pose a potential threat to society from consumers of the drug.

Merritt would like the public to know that there is no grace period for this law. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office will take immediate actions against any one caught selling or in possession of these “Bath Salts” and these cases will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Over the past several months, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has had several calls regarding people who have ingested “Bath Salts” and have been displaying violent and psychotic behaviors.

One incident recently occurred in Vidor. Deputies responded to a residence where a person who was under the influence of “bath salts” called and stated he was holding nine people at gunpoint in his front yard.

When deputies arrived they observed the person holding the gun but there were not any other people in the yard. He was hallucinating as a result of the “bath salts” he had ingested.

This past weekend Deputies arrested an Orangefield resident who was under the influence of “bath salts” and had assaulted his father with a meat cleaver.

The Sheriff’s Office has responded to the residence approximately eight times in the past few weeks for disturbances due to the residents’ constant increasing violent, psychotic behavior caused from his addiction to ‘bath salts.’ T

he resident was arrested for Aggravated Assault Family Violence. There have been many more incidents involving the “bath salts” recently.

Sheriff Merritt believes that this law will provide a way for law enforcement to combat this serious issue.