HARRISBURG, Pa., June 23, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today signed into law Senate Bill 1006, legislation that bans the possession, use and sale of synthetic designer drugs including the dangerous substance known as "bath salts.''
The General Assembly last week unanimously approved the measure to expand the state's list of controlled substances. The new law prohibits all chemical substances contained in bath salts, as well as synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs, including 2C-E, which is similar to LSD or Ecstasy, and salvia, which causes hallucinations.
Bath salts, which have nothing to do with baths or spas, are designer drugs with an effect on users comparable to cocaine or methamphetamine. The substance had been legally sold in some tobacco shops and other specialty stores. Users sometimes experience agitation, paranoia, hallucinations and often commit violent acts.
"Sadly, we have had far too many tragic examples in Pennsylvania of just what kind of impact this drug can have,'' Corbett said. "In Blair County, two friends stabbed each other in a dispute over a bath salt container. In Carbon County, a man held police at bay with an assault rifle for hours. In Lackawanna County, a man broke into a monastery and stabbed a priest. Police said all of them had been using bath salts.''
Corbett commended the General Assembly for working so quickly to outlaw these chemicals. However, since the law does not take effect for 60 days, Corbett asked merchants who sell these chemicals to voluntarily stop before more people are hurt.
"If left unchecked, synthetic drugs could have developed into the most dangerous drug crisis since methamphetamine labs found their way into our state,'' Corbett said. "This ban on synthetic drugs sends a strong message that Pennsylvania will not tolerate the use of these chemicals.
"I want to commend the Pennsylvania State Police and the District Attorneys Association for helping craft the language for this legislation and working to see this ban on bath salts become law,'' Corbett added.
Poison control centers nationwide received nearly 300 calls about bath salts in 2010. Already this year, that number has quadrupled. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has received more than 55 calls regarding bath salts so far this year, up from just 10 last year.
"We have seen the devastating impact these unregulated, dangerous and deadly drugs have had in our communities,'' said Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr., who is also president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. "S.B. 1006 will quite literally save lives, and we are grateful that Governor Corbett and the General Assembly worked with us to respond quickly and decisively to the emerging threat of synthetic drugs.''
Under the new law, conviction for a first offense for delivery or possession with the intent to deliver carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Conviction of simple possession of the substance carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Bath salts are already banned in more than 20 states, as well as in Israel, Canada, Australia and several countries in Europe. In Pennsylvania, several communities established local bans on the sale of synthetic drugs.
The law, which has no fiscal impact, was sponsored by Sen. Elder A. Vogel Jr. (R-Beaver) along with the support of Sen. John Gordner (R-Northumberland), Representatives RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon), Jerry Stern (R-Blair) and Jennifer Mann (D-Lehigh).
To read the text of the bill, visit the General Assembly's website at www.legis.state.pa.us.
Media contact: Kevin Harley, 717-783-1116
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor