SUMMERVILLE -- The effort to ban narcotic "bath salts" in Dorchester County sank quietly away this week.

The proposed law died on the brink of a second preliminary vote because the state has already banned the over-the-counter designer drugs.

County Council approved the ban in a unanimous first preliminary vote in October; the law would have taken three votes. But County Administrator Jason Ward told council on Monday there was no point in pursuing it, because the county is enforcing the state law. Council members nodded quietly and moved to the next agenda item.

Abuse of the store-bought drugs seemed to spike out of nowhere in the county this year. The drugs are crystal or powder substance that mimic illegal drugs, reportedly causing rapid heart rate, severe panic attacks, hallucinations, seizures and psychosis. The symptoms can be fatal.

Since January, Dorchester EMS crews and sheriff's deputies have chased dozens of calls, such as a "hyper-excited" person tearing off clothes and running down the street naked.

The state had delayed acting on a ban while waiting for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to relist the drugs as Schedule 1 narcotics, a move that would ban their use as medicine and remove them from store shelves nationwide. But the state acted after the DEA put an emergency ban on the drugs.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or follow him on Twitter at @bopete.