While local governments, the state of New York, and the federal government continue to work to make the sale and possession of designer drugs like bath salts illegal, there's one politician who says this is the wrong way to deal with the crisis. The 24th congressional district Green Party candidate predicts the moves will all backfire.
Ursula Rozum admits initially, the New York State Health Department regulations and local laws might work in the short term to get bath salts off of store shelves.
"But drug prohibition hasn't proven to prevent drug use, so the likelihood is that bath salt use and synthetic marijuana use and sale will be driven underground," said Rozum.
And Rozum says that will lead to more crime and do nothing to fight the cause of drug abuse. The Green Party hopeful says the government has spent trillions of dollars and incarcerated thousands of nonviolent drug users in the 40-year-old war on drugs.
She says a better answer would be to legalize certain drugs.
"We could legalize tax and regulate the sale of marijuana," Rozum said. "And use the tax revenue from the sales to have money for things like treatment, so we can treat hard drug use as a health problem -- so we can treat addiction as a health problem."
Rozum is running against Republican incumbent Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle and former Congressman Dan Maffei, a Democrat for the central New York congressional district which includes Syracuse.
The abuse of bath salts has exploded in recent months in central New York and around the state. Political solutions, that have found almost universal support, have included local laws and state regulations that make the substances illegal to possess or sell.
Bath salts and other designer drugs, like synthetic marijuana, can lead to violent and vicious behavior, hallucinations and other health problems in those who use them. The growth of this new class of drugs in New York state has caused a crime and health crisis for public officials across the region.