A new law going into effect will ban the sale, use, and possession of synthetic recreational drugs marketed as bath salts in Ohio.
The new legislation signed by Governor John Kasich will add the synthetic marijuana also known as K2 or spice to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances.
Under Ohio's new law, penalties for possession or trafficking of K2 or spice will be the same as those for marijuana - a minor misdemeanor for possession and a felony for trafficking in the vicinity of a school or juvenile.
The fake marijuana products contain organic leaves coated with chemicals and are smoked. The bath salt drugs are crystalized chemicals typically snorted or injected. When used, they provide a marijuana-like high. The products have been known to cause reactions such as hallucinations, paranoia, seizures, and severe agitation. They have also been linked to deaths in Ohio.
"The misuse of bath salts containing MDPV, mephedrone and related substances has led to deaths and hundreds of calls to poison centers nationwide," said Edward L. Langston, MD, then a member of the AMA Board of Trustees and a family physician.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported last month that the number of calls to the country's poison centers rose dramatically from 303 in 2010 to more than 4,700 in the first seven months of this year. The American Medical Association has come out in support of national legislation to ban bath salts, and several states have implemented their own bans on bath salts and K2 or both.
Up until the ban, the designer drug could be found in convenience stores, tobacco shops, and other businesses. While some stores may still have the drug on their shelves, it will be illegal beginning Monday.