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Jefferson county attorneys crafting laws to outlaw bath salts

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Spurred by a lack of statewide regulations regarding bath salts and other synthetic drugs, two local legal officials are crafting new legislation that could ban the products’ use and sale in Jefferson County.

“Without action being taken at the state level, we become the front line,” said David J. Paulsen, County Attorney.

Mr. Paulsen and District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert have been crafting legislation since early June, when they realized the state legislature wasn’t going to act on a fully encompassing ban.

“It’s obviously easier for a larger entity to make a law like that,” Mr. Paulsen said. “If the next door county doesn’t do the same thing, or doesn’t enforce it, then what does it accomplish?”

Bath salts, products classified as both synthetic cathinones and synthetic amphetamines, are often compared to cocaine and methamphetamine. The products are sold online and in a couple of local stores under a variety of names and are labeled “not for human consumption” to avoid federal regulators.

If Jefferson County were to pass legislation regarding bath salts, it would join a growing number of counties and individual municipalities in the state that have either passed legislation, like the city of Utica, or have plans to vote on such measures soon, such as Onondaga County.

“We’ve been watching rather carefully and getting copies of their legislation, so we can compare and contrast,” Mr. Paulsen said.

Though federal rules signed by President Obama in July banned a select number of chemicals found in bath salts and synthetic marijuana, Mrs. Intschert said a local law would give more options to officials in the area.

“It’s a problem that’s affecting our entire community, and what you’re seeing is our community trying to come together,” Mrs. Intschert said. “Everyone is trying to make people aware of the problem and how we can best combat it to keep people safe.”

Declining to identify specifics of the potential legislation, Mrs. Intschert described the proposed law as “another piece of the puzzle.” She added that if necessary, the bill could be broken into a small number of separate pieces to combat each type of synthetic drug product.

Mr. Paulsen hopes the proposed law will be ready for review by the Jefferson County Board of Legislators before its meeting Tuesday, or by the end of the month.

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