A synthetic drug referred to as "bath salts" that mimic the effects of methamphetamine or cocaine has been banned by the state Department of Health. The bath salts, commonly known by the names Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Blue Silk and Zoom, are sold online and in head shops and smoke shops, officials said.
The products typically are snorted like cocaine and meth and produce a high or increased energy. It can, however, also cause hallucinations and aggression, officials said.
The state Board of Pharmacy passed an emergency ban on the stimulants found in bath salts -- called substituted cathinone -- after hearing use of the products is becoming more widespread, health officials said.
The Washington State Poison Center said they already have received 39 calls this year from people ingesting bath salts, with half coming from hospital emergency rooms.
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Officials said that is three times as many calls as they had in 2010.
Tri-City law enforcement officers say they haven't had any cases of bath salts being used in the area yet and it doesn't appear there has been any deaths connected to the products.
Richland police Capt. Jeff Taylor said warning signs that someone might be using the synthetic drugs include acting different, not sleeping and not interested in normal activities.
"It's no different than if they're getting into an illegal drug," he said. "It just happens to be this one's new and not necessary illegal yet."
The pharmacy board's emergency ban, which began April 15, makes it illegal to make, sell, deliver or possess the products in the state.
The ban remains in effect for three months.