Delaware lawmakers working to permanently ban ‘bath salts’

Time is running out on a temporary ban on the designer drug known as “bath salts,” but Delaware lawmakers say the wheels are already in motion to get the highly addictive substance off Delaware’s streets for good.

Senator Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown) sponsors legislation that would make the ban permanent, adding it should be ready when the General Assembly returns next week.

“The General Assembly, we need to act swiftly. The bill will be introduced the first week of session and ideally before we recess in the end of January,” said Hall-Long. “Hopefully we’ll clear both houses, and [the bill] will have made its way to the Governor’s desk.”

Under the measure, possession of bath salts would be treated like other illegal drugs, and in some cases, result in jail time. 

Sen. Hall-Long says emergency rooms have already seen a dramatic decrease in patients suffering from the effects of bath salts, the likes of which were sold, and easily bought, in places like tobacco shops and gas stations prior to the state’s temporary ban.

Smoked, snorted or injected, bath salts are not only addictive, but are said to cause hallucinations, extreme paranoia, agitation and violent episodes.

Becky K., whose last name is being withheld to protect her identity, said her boyfriend attacked her when he was on bath salts.

“I ended up with a black eye and I left him. He finally realized that the bath salts had turned him into a physical monster.” 

David Salasky, the man accused of stabbing and killing New Castle County Police Lt. Joseph Szczerba Sept. 16, 2011 is believed to have been high on bath salts at the time. Salasky is currently awaiting trial in connection with the crime.

“I have never seen a drug like this in my 23 years of experience,” said New Castle County Police Chief Col. Scott McLaren. “This is about a safer community, a safer environment for our children, a safer environment for the police officers. I hope I never have to experience attending another police funeral as a result of any drug that’s out there, let along a drug we can do something about.”

The General Assembly reconvenes Tuesday, Jan. 10. 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.