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Florida Bans Synthetic Cocaine Sold as 'Bath Salt'

12:08 AM, Jan 27, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Cocaine's latest alias, marked as "bath salt," is following in the line of banned synthetic drugs.

Experts say the powder, sold under various names in smoke shops, convenience stores and online, is actually synthetic cocaine.

It's been legal because it's labeled "not for human consumption."

But it's being snorted, smoked and swallowed, leading to a skyrocketing amount of poison cases across the state, according to Dr. Jay Schauben with the Florida Poison Information Center in Jacksonville.

Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, filed an emergency order Wednesday banning all products containing MDVP, a substance which mimics the effects of cocaine or heroin.

Bondi said it's causing users to experience violent side effects, including hallucinations, severe paranoia, seizures and kidney failure.

"One of the side effects of this drug is it makes you think you're seeing monsters," Bondi said. "It also makes you think that you can fly and there are a lot of balconies out there with Spring Break."

The substances in the synthetic drug aren't regulated, so the effects vary from case to case.

Some side effects have been reported to last for days.

Although most of the state's cases came from Central and Northern Florida, there have been only two cases reported on the First Coast in the last year, according to Schauben. One was a nine-year-old boy.

The drug is inexpensive and does not show up on drug tests, making it popular with youth.

Florida Poison Control centers have reported 61 calls about abuse of the product.

Schauben said there could be more cases that have gone unreported.

"That doesn't mean it's not around here," Schauben said. "It just means that individuals are either not gonig to the hospital when they should be or they're showing up at the hospital but the nurses and the physicians aren't recognizing the toxidrome associated with this."

The Florida Poison Control Center began tracking the calls around March 2010.

Schauben said the recent surge in cases is likely just the tip of the iceburg.

First Coast News

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