Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said this morning that synthetic marijuana and “bath salts” designer drugs are now officially illegal, and law enforcement agencies will not be lenient if you’re caught with them. The drugs officially became illegal last Friday, and the penalties for selling or possessing those substances the same as marijuana or heroin.

Synthetic marijuana goes by the trade names Kush, Voodoo, K2, Black Spice, LA Legal, Black Diamond, Green Monster and others. The bath salts may be known as Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave, Ocean or White Dove, among others.

Until recently, the designer drugs could be found on the counters at convenience stores in plain view. Store owners have been warned to remove the product from shelves, and if they don’t…

“We’re going to arrest both the clerks and the managers of these stores and we’re going to prosecute them,” said Mancuso during a press conference Monday morning. “…These are convenience stores. This is where our families go into to buy goods and services, and we don’t need our children going in there and buying drugs out of the convenience stores.”

Mancuso said The American Association of Poison Control Centers has reported 4,500 calls since 2010 over synthetic marijuana. It is smoked like traditional marijuana, and side effects can include rapid heart rates, elevated blood pressure, seizures, anxiety, confusion, vomiting and severe agitation. Bath salts, meanwhile, can be snorted, smoked or injected, and can cause hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, rapid heartbeat, chest pains, nausea and convulsions.

Mancuso said traditional bath salts only contain Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) and sea salts (sodium chloride). Illegal bath salts will have such ingredients as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) or mephedrone (methylmethcathinone).

Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to outlaw the drugs by executive order last year, but the new law should close any loopholes or legal questions regarding synthetic marijuana or illegal bath salts, said Mancuso. Penalties include up to 30 years in prison for bath salts or a fine of up to $50,000, depending on the amount seized.

When the governor attempted to make the drugs illegal several months ago, manufacturers simply changed the active ingredients to get around the ban. Mancuso said the new law is much broader.

“We had the law that the governor passed -- kind of a quick fix -- but it only targeted specific compounds,” said the sheriff. “So all they was change the compounds and then, bam, we’re back in the same situation. So this is a remedy now that is long term and we feel has teeth in it.”

On top of that, Mancuso said Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier is also on board with the ban and will “aggressively prosecute” offenders.


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