Synthetic stimulants often referred to as “bath salts” are from the synthetic cathinone class of drugs. Synthetic cathinones are central nervous stimulants and are designed to mimic effects similar to those produced by cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA (ecstasy). These substances are often marketed as “bath salts,” “research chemicals,” “plant food,” “glass cleaner,” and labeled “not for human consumption,” in order to circumvent application of the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act. Marketing in this manner attempts to hide the true reason for the products’ existence—the distribution of a psychoactive/stimulant substance for abuse.
The synthetic stimulants are sold at smoke shops, head shops, convenience stores, adult book stores, gas stations, and on Internet sites and often labeled “not for human consumption.”
They cause effects similar to those of other stimulants such as methamphetamine, MDMA, and cocaine.
In July 2012, the U.S. Government passed Pub.L. 112- 144, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act (SDAPA), that classified a number of synthetic substances under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. SDAPA placed these substances in the most restrictive category of controlled substances. Cannabimimetic agents, including 15 synthetic cannabinoid compounds identified by name, two synthetic cathinone compounds (mephedrone and MDPV), and nine synthetic hallucinogens known as the 2C family, were restricted by this law. In addition, methylone and ten (10) synthetic cathinones that were subject to temporary control were permanently controlled by DEA through the administrative process.
Another synthetic cathinone, N-ethylbentylone, was temporarily controlled in 2018. Other synthetic cathinones may be subject to prosecution under the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act which allows these dangerous substances to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances if certain criteria can be met.