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Bath Salts by any other name

February 2, 2013

KCET: “Bath Salts, Bubbles, by Any Other Name, ‘Zombie’ Drug a ‘Legal High’” by Cathy Hue (Laura Ling contributed):

Why would someone take a drug that can turn you into a psycho or a flesh eating zombie? If you’ve seen the “man eats face” video on YouTube, then you’re probably familiar with bath salts, the drug behind the atrocity depicted there. But for former addicts, like 21 year-old ballet dancer Hannah, bath salts weren’t seen as anything worse than an energy drink.

First, energy drinks maybe aren’t safe also. But more important for this zombie blogger, what is the evidence connecting “bath salts” to “man eats face”??~?! There is none! This is a zombie lie! The media ran with the zombie bath salt story but the blood toxicology on the Miami-face-eater showed no evidence of the street chemicals – just marijuana. That said, we don’t know what kind of toxicology they even ran or what we would expect to show up. He could have been on bath salts, but we don’t really know.

Still, this entire “bath salts” fear campaign is ridiculous. Who is promoting this? If they are going to report it (because I do believe that these synthetic drugs are a problem but) why not refer to more specific chemistry? “Bath salts” is almost meaningless. Why not teach me about the amine-derivatives and the actual organic chemistry? Instead this article provides a list of other slang names for the designer drugs :

Hookah Pipe Cleaner, Jewelry Cleaner, Ivory Wave, Plant Feed / Plant Food, Bonsai Fertilizer, Red Rocket, Insect Repellant, Bubbles, Salts, Hagigat, Cloud Nine, Drone, Energy-1, Lunar Wave, Meow Meow, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight, White Lightning

Meaningless, meaningless, meaningless and meaningless.

“Someone is going to come up with a different name, a little bit of a different chemical formula, different packaging, and it’s going to be back on the street… You don’t know what they are mixing. You don’t know if they are cutting it with Drano,” Greer said.

Heck they could call it “Drano”. Why not? Would it matter? These names are not useful reporting. Tell me about cathinone. Why empower the street slang?

KCET is the nation’s largest independent public television station. On air, online and in the community, KCET plays a vital role in the cultural and educational enrichment of Southern and Central California

Publicly funded fear-mongering! No wonder the public doesn’t understand science. We need reporters to elevate the discourse with a segment on the actual science of these compounds and their biological effects. Not to blame the FDA for its lack of jurisdiction on the many products labeled not for human consumption.

If they can go by so many street names why is the media working so hard to popularize “bath salts”?

That said, it is perhaps noteworthy that this story of ‘bath salts by any other name’, is timed to the release of the movie “Warm Bodies” – being promoted as the zombie version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”. Would a rose altered to a slightly different chemical formula smell as sweet? Maybe it would smell sweeter but the zombie is fear of new technology. So the KCET article quotes an advocate claim:

This is the first time we’ve seen this. We’re fighting technology, access, ease of information and the FDA

But it is this article that helps create the fear of technology by further blurring the complicated science.

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