Bath Salts Could Soon Be Banned In Colorado

Police Say Drug Involved In Cannibal Attack, Teen's Death

POSTED: 09:20 AM MDT Jun 01, 2012    UPDATED: 11:20 AM MDT Jun 02, 2012 

A synthetic drug linked to a vicious attack on a homeless man in Florida and the death of a Colorado teen could soon be banned in the state.

Colorado lawmakers passed a bill making it illegal to manufacture or sell a narcotic known as 'bath salts', and the legislation is awaiting a signature by Governor John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper has until Friday, June 8 to finish signing bills into law. Bath salts would be banned starting July 1.

The synthetic narcotic has nothing to do with what you put in the tub.

"It's an extremely potent stimulant, much more powerful than methamphetamine," said 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May, who was a proponent of the ban. "It causes hallucinations, it causes people to act violently, it causes people to get psychotic very quickly."

Police in Miami said a homeless man was high on bath salts when he stripped himself and another homeless man naked and began eating the man's face. Authorities said Ronald Poppo, 65, is in critical condition with 75% of his face gone. Police shot and killed the perpetrator, 31-year-old Rudy Eugene, who they said exhibited "insane" behavior.

This week investigators in Grand Junction said 19-year-old Daniel Richards had bath salts in his system when he died in April. Richards' friends said he was acting violently, that they tried to subdue him and accidentally strangled him. The death has been ruled a homicide and there have been no arrests at this point.

May said if the governor agrees to the ban, it would come just as bath salts are becoming more common in Colorado and around the country.

"It's something we saw coming," said May. "It's something that wasn't being as closely monitored as it could have been. I think we have some cases now (in Southern Colorado) and we're obviously going to see more."

For many in the state, this ban couldn't come soon enough.

"I think it's scary because kids have access to it, and they don't understand the dangers of what it could be possibly do," said Afton Webb, mother to three young girls.

"Things like that are illegal for a reason," said Christopher Miller, who said a friend of his tried bath salts. "The fact they can find a loophole, it's sickening.

The availability of bath salts is already changing in the region. Employees at two shops where KRDO Newschannel 13 found bath salts last year said Friday they stopped selling the drug months ago.