Like many other local governments in New York responding to the bizarre behavior of people using the drugs known as “bath salts,” Lewis County is considering a ban on many of the compounds used in synthetic drugs.
The ban would outlaw bath salts and synthetic marijuana, sold under the brand names Spice and K2, among others.
But Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli said bath salts are the drugs that have been causing the most worry for law enforcement and health officials.
"Basically, what it's going to do is it's going to give us a tool, to be able to make an arrest, and we'll go from there, see what the courts decide," he said.
Hospitals and law enforcement in Lewis County see about five cases per week of people using bath salts, plant food, or glass cleaner, according to Carpinelli.
One shop in the county used to sell the drugs, but stopped at the request of law enforcement. People can still buy the drugs outside the county, or online.
Carpinelli compared the drugs to PCP, in terms of the volatile behavior they inspire in users.
"It's nothing like our more – how do I want to say? – softer drugs that we've had in the past. This is hard stuff, and it just seems to bind to the receptors in the brain cells of people much stronger than anything we've seen before," he said.
Carpinelli hopes a county-wide ban will help keep the drugs out of the hands of Lewis County residents.
The Lewis County Legislature will hold a public hearing Tuesday and consider the ban in a meeting later that day.