Prosecutors to Use Lookalike-Drug Law to Go After "Bath Salts"
Strategy shift could mean charges for compounds not specifically banned
(wibc.com photo courtesy DEA)
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry is moving to plug loopholes in the state's "bath salts" law once and for all, and other prosecutors may follow suit.
Drugs sold over the counter under names like "bath salts" or "spice" carry serious health risks, but have been hard to outlaw because the chemical formula keeps shifting. Curry plans to use the state's lookalike drug law, originally drafted to charge drug dealers who do things like pass off baking soda as cocaine.
The law applies to anything represented to be a controlled substance. Despite the innocent-sounding names, Curry says there's no question those retailers know exactly what they're selling, and says that means the law applies.
Curry's sending letters to what he says are dozens of retailers still selling bath salts to warn them of the new interpretation. If they don't clear their shelves, he says charges will follow.
Attorney General Greg Zoeller is sending similar letters statewide warning retailers of potential civil action which could cost them their licenses. He says he expects prosecutors around the state to take similar action.
Violators of the lookalike law could actually face stiffer penalties than they would for selling one of the compounds specifically outlawed. Unless the buyer is a minor, selling small quantities of Spice is a misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail. Selling lookalike drugs is a felony carrying up to eight years in prison.