By Danza Johnson / NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – To those not keeping up with the news, Ivory Wave Bath Salts sounds like a good idea for an aromatic and soothing bath.
But to those in the know, it is one of the newest drugs on the market – and it’s legal. Now, state lawmakers and area law enforcers are scrambling to stop the latest drug craze from taking over the area.
The product, which can be purchased at some area convenience stores, has people in the law enforcement community on edge. Often simply called salt, the drug is popular among meth users.
Like meth, salt is smoked to produce a high. And like most amphetamines, it causes paranoia in its users. In fact, Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson said the paranoia caused by salt far exceeds what’s seen in meth users.
“It’s bad,” said Dickinson. “It’s like nothing I’ve seen. The people on this stuff are very volatile and aggressive and they believe what they see is real. Someone is going to get seriously hurt or killed and I’m afraid it’s going to be a law officer or another innocent victim.”
Dickinson said he has had deputies injured from trying to subdue people under the influence of salt. He recalls an encounter when a man fought off his deputies because he thought they were devils coming to take him.
Although it has not been confirmed, it has been widely speculated in the law enforcement community that the man who shot and killed a Tippah County sheriff’s deputy last month was under the influence of salt.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said he also has had deputies injured trying to arrest salt users and also has seen other people seriously injured by the paranoid individuals.
“This is one of the worst behavioral drugs I’ve ever seen,” said Johnson. “They are like mad people and they have no control over it. They are seeing things, hearing things and deputies and first-responders end up in the crossfire. Something has to be done to stop this before is spreads.”
How it began
Where salt comes from is not really known, but why it’s come at this time is obvious to Capt. Marvis Bostick, commander of the North Mississippi Narcotics Unit.
He said salt started popping up around September, just a couple of months after the new law to make psuedophedrine only available by prescription took effect. Psuedophedrine is the main ingredient used to manufacture crystal meth.
“Someone made this stuff with some of the same properties as meth, packaged it and distributed it as a legal product,” said Bostick. “The law went into effect on July 1 and we started seeing this stuff shortly after. I feel that it was created as a substitute to meth.”
The Ivory soap company is not the producer or distributor of Ivory Wave Bath Salt.
Dickinson, Johnson, Bostick other sheriffs, and the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association are pushing for legislation to ban the product much like what happened with Spice.
Spice, an incense that was sold over the counter and mimicked the effects of marijuana, was banned in 2010. Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said there are at least four bills on salt that will be presented during this legislative term. Holland said he believes a bill to ban the product will be passed very swiftly, saying the drug is a poison to the state.
Sen. J.P. Wilemon Jr., D-Belmont, co-authored a bill that he hopes will make the sale of salt illegal.
“I hadn’t heard of it until I read an article in the newspaper and saw the concern of law enforcers,” he said. “So I started talking to sheriffs in the area and they all said it was a serious, serious thing. So we drafted this bill. We hope it’s brought to the floor as soon as possible.”