Bill aims to tighten Indiana laws over 'bath salts'

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Indiana lawmakers are again trying to toughen state laws that prohibit businesses from selling synthetic drugs known as "bath salts" and other nicknames.

The state Senate's Criminal Law Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would make it a crime to sell a non-alcoholic substance knowing that it is intended to cause intoxication. Current law depends on the chemical makeup of the drug having been ruled illegal.

The bill would also require the state to suspend the business license for a year of any retailer caught selling synthetic drugs or look-alikes. Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Merritt of Indianapolis says businesses should know whether the substances they're selling are legitimate.

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Indiana poison control officials saw a dramatic spike in the number of calls about exposure to bath salts and say use of the synthetic drug is becoming a "big problem." The Indiana Poison Center received 360 calls about bath salt exposure in 2011, a 9,000-percent increase from the four calls received in 2010.

The drugs are laced with stimulants and have been compared to synthetic cocaine. They can cause hallucinations and paranoia, and two deaths were reported in Indiana in 2011 from their use.


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