|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Friday, 23 September 2011 00:00|
A group of concerned parents, relatives and community members gathered along the side of State Route 260 Saturday, Sept. 17, to protest what they believe has been the irresponsible sale of “bath salts” to minors.
Bath salts, known by the scientific name methylenedioxypyrovalerone or MDPV, are a form of artificial stimulant legally sold in Arizona under a wide range of brand names like “Ivory Wave” and “Vanilla Sky.”
The product isn’t for use in baths at all, but rather is a designer drug with effects that can be similar to ecstasy, PCP or cocaine, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“Users have reported impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes,” reads a report from the DEA. “The long-term physical and psychological effects of use are unknown but potentially severe.”
In fact, the DEA has used its emergency powers to enact a one-year ban on the substance while the government studies whether or not it should be banned permanently. The ban takes effect in October.
The ban is a little too late for Tammy Sanchez, an organizer of the protest who said the drug caused severe problems for her son Matthew, currently in the custody of the Yavapai County Juvenile Detention Center in Prescott.
“I knew something was wrong with him, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez also said that her son had stolen just about everything of value she had just to pay for the substance, including a land deed.
Matthew’s mind wasn’t right on the drug, said his sister, Ashley Davis. But since he was in a legal probation period, he turned to bath salts to avoid potential problems with illegal substances.
Davis said that her brother heard about the protest.
“He supports us,” Davis said. “He’s glad we’re doing it. He couldn’t stop the cravings for this stuff.”
The problem with bath salts extends beyond Sanchez’s family, said Steve King, principal of South Verde High School.
“Something has got to be done about it,” King said. “It’s burning my kids up.”
King, who wasn’t at the protest, said that it had the support of many parents in the community.
“People are dying,” Sanchez said.
The protesters were focusing their anger on a smoke shop off of Howards Road operated by Wes Lance.
Lance watched the protest for a little while before leaving.
“It doesn’t make sense to me since it’s already been banned,” Lance said.
He also described the protesters as “people infringing on other’s constitutional right to freedom of choice” and accused the media of making a big deal about the protest and blowing it out of proportion.
Craig Chistopherson, who runs another business in the same cluster of shops, said he wanted people to know that the merchants in the area “aren’t drug dealers.”
In the meantime, Sanchez said fighting to get rid of bath salts is her new purpose in life.
“I’m going to keep fighting it,” Sanchez said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
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