Maryland considers ban on synthetic drugs known as 'bath salts'

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Just weeks after an ABC2 News investigation revealed a growing problem involving so-called "Bath Salts", state health officials are considering a ban on the drug. ABC2 News Joce Sterman is working for you, With details on how they'll decide and how many more cases have been added since our story back in May.

The designer drug with the household name is in the spotlight in Maryland, with Bath Salts now at the center of a state investigation. Dr. Thomas Cargiulo with the MD Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration says, "We're really trying to get ahead of the curve on this."

While other states have seen hundreds of calls to poison control centers and several deaths, Maryland has been lucky so far. But the problem is growing here. Maryland has already had one death related to the drug. Since our story aired in May, five more cases have been added to the 15 already logged here this year, but Cargiulo admits the numbers could be much higher, "That's our guess that it's underestimated and that's why we're reaching out really through all the jurisdictions."

The ADAA is reaching out, asking local health departments and treatment centers to report back about Bath Salt cases. They're also coordinating with emergency rooms across the state to make sure they know the signs and symptoms of this drug's usage.

In addition, they're working to enhance testing for the substance and asking for help trying to figure out where the drug is sold in Maryland. All this information will help the state's Health Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein decide whether Bath Salts should be banned. Cargiulo explains, "You can't ban everything and we need to go through a process so that if we're going to go to that point of banning something, which is significant, that we made sure we touched all the bases."

That's why the agency is collecting information until mid-July. They'll hand over their findings to the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, with a decision on a ban potentially coming within a matter of weeks. As they collect, they're also asking for feedback from the public. You can email regs@dhmh.state.md.us with your comments, observations and concerns about Bath Salts.

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