Canadian health authorities warn of 'bath salts' drug
Published Friday, June 1, 2012 9:55PM EDT
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse has issued an alert about "bath salts", a new synthetic drug that is illegal in some countries and in parts of the U.S., but still legal in Canada.
The drug, which can be injected, snorted, smoked and swallowed, has moved across the border from Maine into New Brunswick and appears to be taking hold in the Maritimes.
Dr. Nancy Murphy, a medical director at the IWK Regional Poison Centre in Halifax said she saw firsthand what the psychoactive drug can do when a patient came into a local emergency room in March.
"An aggressive behaviour and a deep-seated paranoia, and sometimes the violent behaviour can be inflicted upon others, or even on themselves," she told CTV Atlantic.
There is speculation a man who committed a zombie-like cannibal attack on a homeless man in Miami last week may have been under the influence of 'bath salts'.
The heightened mental effect sets this synthetic drug apart from ecstasy and cocaine, and the main compound in bath salts, Methylenedioxypyrovalerone or MDPV, has a similar structure to amphetamines. It is not listed in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so it remains legal in Canada.
Police were surprised when bath salts appeared in the Saint John, N.B. area last fall.
"Those pills were sent away to Health Canada for analysis, and surprisingly they came not as ecstasy, but the main ingredient found in bath salts," said Detective Sgt. Craig MacDougall of the Rothesay Regional Police.
Police in Nova Scotia are also concerned.
Officials with addiction services for two of the province's counties say they have been seeing two to three cases of bath salts abuse each week.
"Because organized crime wasn't able to profit as easily from bath salts because of its accessibility, they were keeping it out of the urban centres, and that's why it remains primarily a rural drug," said Greg Purvis, the director of Addiction Services for the Cumberland and Pictou County Health Authorities.
Health Canada says it is still studying the issue and has yet to comment on how it intends to proceed.
With a report from CTV Atlantic's Felicia Yap