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'Bath salts' raise concerns at Fort Gordon

Growing concern in the military community about the drug called “bath salts” has spread to Fort Gordon.

On Friday, the Army post’s chief of criminal investigations briefed garrison command about a private who was found with a white powdery substance in six plastic bags. Further search of the private’s barracks room June 7 produced additional drug paraphernalia, according to a criminal alert notice.

Special Agent in Charge Charles Rector said that tests of the substance indicated they contained derivatives of bath salts, but official tests remain pending.

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The rising trend in bath salts comes as civilian and military officials crack down on the last illegal fad: synthetic marijuana called “spice.” In April, Fort Gordon command staff took several measures to educate its soldiers and their superiors about the hazards of “spice” and prohibited soldiers from visiting an Augusta store on Wrightsboro Road believed to be selling the drug.

“We’re hoping bath salts doesn’t fill the void” left by spice, Rector said..

The private was also found to be mixing compounds purchased online and selling them to other soldiers. Charges, either criminal or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, are pending test results.

The Army on May 29 issued a directive prohibiting active duty, reserve and National Guard soldiers from using, possessing, distributing or importing any “controlled substance analogue.” That expanded a previous prohibition against fake cannabanoids such as spice and salvia to include any synthetic drugs, including bath salts.

Synthetic drugs appeal to service members because they are marketed as producing a legal high without a positive drug test. Users experience euphoria for two to four hours, similar to consuming cocaine or methamphetamine, but the after-effects include psychotic episodes, delusions and increased heart rates. Bath salts can be found online, at convenience stores and head shops under names such as Ivory Wave, Vanilla Sky and Snowman.

While spice is becoming harder to find – it was made illegal in Georgia in 2010 – some of its packaging was obviously designed to appeal to the military, Rector said. Whether that trend extends to bath salts remains to be seen, he said.

Color pictures of bath salt packages and information on how bath salts users behave has been distributed to commanders around the post.

“We’ll see what happens with bath salts,” Rector said.


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