Broward News

Carl Hiaasen, Pam Bondi Weigh In on "Bath Salt" Drug Scare

What's off-white, crumbly, sold in gas stations, and goes up your nose? Hint: You're not actually supposed to take a bath with it. The party drug MDPV, marketed as "bath salts," packs the anxiety-laden punch of a vat of coffee and the comedown of a mild meth tweak, and apparently it's all the rage among kids in Florida. It's been the subject of a spate of Sun-Sentinel articles recently, and now Attorney General Pam Bondi says she's having nightmares about failing to ban the substance.

Carl Hiaasen, in his Herald column, takes the state government to task for freaking out about bath salts while its response to an estimated seven deaths a day from prescription drug overdoses appears pretty lackadaisical.

Proposed laws to clean up fly-by-night pain clinics that don't keep track of their prescriptions are caught up in lawsuits and Rick Scott's 

efforts to cut spending. Some new rules from the Board of Medicine would require a quick urine test for pain-clinic customers; that's being held up by Scott's regulatory reform office.

So what about Bondi's nightmares? "I frankly had a nightmare last night that someone was going to overdose on this and we hadn't done anything," she confided. Hiaasen took her to task:

Interestingly, she didn't mention having any nightmares about Florida's storefront pain clinics, which are still handing out Vicodins like Tic-Tacs, and overdosing customers at the rate of seven fatalities per day -- more than heroin, crystal meth and cocaine combined.

Granted, what her nightmares are really about is probably the possibility that Rick Scott will hamper any kind of targeted drug-prosecution effort. He's already nixed the state Office of Drug Control, which leaves the attorney general (who doubtless has other things to do) in charge of fighting overdoses through prosecution. As the War on Drugs has shown us, that's exactly the least effective way to reduce drug abuse.

Then Scott froze all new regulations until his staff can go through them one by one, which leaves criminal pill prescribers in the clear. The clinic owners who want to operate legitimately are left scratching their heads about what the law might be a few months from now. 

Bondi hired former state Sen. Dave Aronberg to fight "pill mills" from within her office, but there's no extra money for his post: She has to shuffle resources around from other departments. So the AG is left fighting a supply-side battle with few resources under an administration that's comically skeptical of anything that costs more than a prayer.

Sorry, Pam. The last thing you need is another drug to combat. Might want to go draw a hot bath, close your eyes, and pretend that "bath salts" don't exist.

Follow The Juice on Twitter: @TheJuiceBPB.

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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph