Governor signs tougher bill to ban synthetic drugs such as bath salts
Gov. Nikki Haley signed into law a bill that not only bans synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and “Spice,” but also specifically names hundreds of compounds used to make them.
Charleston mother Rebecca Bradley, whose 17-year-old daughter became addicted to synthetic marijuana, praised the bill as a tougher stance against these products. She watched how, immediately after a previous law went into effect, convenience store shelves restocked with similar drugs in slightly different packaging — while her daughter went in and out of treatment.
“The most important thing is the phrasing,” Bradley said. “We’re chasing them by listing all the ingredients.”
Bath salts, not to be confused with the toiletry, come in small containers with names such as “Ivory Wave” or “Vanilla Sky” and mimic cocaine and LSD. Synthetic marijuana, sometimes called “K2” or “Spice,” comes in small pouches often marketed as potpourri.
A ban enacted in October put the products in the same group of drugs as heroin, cocaine and authentic marijuana. But soon copycat brands merely altered their formulas to skirt the law.
“I hope we have a mechanism in place now to go out and enforce this,” Bradley said.
The new law says first-time offenders face a maximum punishment of six months in prison or a fine as high as $1,000. Penalties double to as long as a year in prison and as much as $2,000 for a second offense.
Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for the governor, praised the lawmakers who sponsored bills.
“It’s sad that we have to address the issue, but State Rep. Anne Thayer and Sen. Harvey Peeler deserve great credit for addressing it in the General Assembly,” Godfrey said.
Peeler called synthetic drugs a “deadly scourge in South Carolina” in a written statement.
“This bill sends a message that when these drug dealers come up with a new trick to sell poison to our citizens, we will be able to move just as quickly to make it illegal,” he said.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.