Run-of-the-mill, legal drugs can be as deadly as exoticsOne thing about human beings, we’re able to find incredibly creative ways to harm ourselves. And, of course, others. One of the latest: so-called “bath salts.”
By: By Mike Nichols, Superior Telegram
One thing about human beings, we’re able to find incredibly creative ways to harm ourselves. And, of course, others.
One of the latest: so-called “bath salts.”
You have probably heard of these chemicals marketed under catchy names like Ivory Wave and Vanilla Sky and Ocean Snow. They received a lot of attention recently when a Florida guy who was — wrongly, it turns out — thought to be on them was found eating the face of a homeless man.
It’s not just Floridians who use them. The Barron County Sheriff’s Department, for instance, has said they’re seeing use of “bath salts” that combine the worst attributes of meth, cocaine, PCP, LSD and Ecstasy, and leave people “completely disconnected from reality.”
First, it was K2, a so-called “synthetic marijuana,” then “bath salts,” David Malison, a detective in Caledonia, told me. The next thing coming down the pike around the country is “jewelry cleaner,” a synthetic drug that is often sold on the Internet, he said.
I gather it’ll really restore the luster to your brain.
But none of that ought to worry legislators as much as another substance that has been found in the systems of a growing number of people who have acted out in unpredictable, violent and even fatal ways.
In Port Washington a couple years ago already, a woman’s attorney said it caused her to stab her ex-husband in the heart in front of their two children.
In the town of Mukwa in Waupaca County, it was blamed for the fact a man ended up going about 100 miles per hour down a rural highway, crashed into a pick-up truck and killed a 400-pound guy described as a “gentle giant.”
In Waukesha, a judge said it was part of the reason a 25-year-old defendant, given 28 years in prison, had shot and killed his best friend.
People on it seem to do all sorts of cruel things to their kids: Shoot them, hit them, bite them, and occasionally, even kill them. We have laws, of course, to take care of people like that, usually, though not always — not really.
Just about any day, you can pick up a paper in any town in Wisconsin and find a story about somebody who ran into a tree and whose passenger, usually a friend or a relative, was ejected through the windshield of a car.
We shrug because it involves a drug, a legal one that should of course remain that way because most people use it responsibly. But it’s also an easily abused one that, because of our history in this state, we can’t seem to really clamp down on when people abuse it. Right now — amazingly — you have to drive hammered four times within five years before getting charged with a felony.
Maybe that’s why, on the day I am writing this, the Fourth of July, there will be close to 200 people arrested for driving drunk in this state.
And who knows how many multiples of that are taking back roads and not getting caught.
Sen. Alberta Darling is trying to change that and make drunk driving a felony after the third offense — something she has, unfortunately, been unable to convince most other legislators to go along with in the past.
I think her problem is that she doesn’t have any stories about somebody eating somebody else’s face. She just has the normal, ho-hum, litany of death and dismemberment that floats off into the ether and is ignored or forgotten because it doesn’t involve some odd or exotic-sounding designer drug, not like “bath salts” or “jewelry cleaner.”
It’s just alcohol.
Mike Nichols is a syndicated columnist who spent 18 years writing about Wisconsin for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He is now a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute. This column represents only his personal opinion. Contact him at MRNichols@wi.rr.com.