Put ‘Bath Salts’ Dealers in Cells

One troubling aspect of law enforcement raids at five Ohio locations accused of selling illegal “bath salts” is that the alleged pushers were warned in advance.

That’s right: Owners of two Guernsey County stores and three others in Clark and Montgomery counties were told months ago that police might be paying them a visit. Yet they allegedly continued to sell the synthetic drugs known as bath salts.

In November, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine sent letters to all retail stores in the state, advising them of the law against selling synthetic drugs and warning of the consequences if they did so.

Then, last week, officers from about a dozen law enforcement agencies, including DeWine’s office and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, raided the five businesses. DeWine said various synthetic drugs were seized. He added some “came in packaging designed with superhero images, which demonstrates that these drugs are being marketed toward our children.”

For a few years, it was possible for unscrupulous business owners to get away with being pushers by selling synthetic drugs that had not specifically been outlawed in Ohio. And yes, a few honest store owners may have sold the stuff until they were made aware of the nature of what they were placing on their shelves.

Ignorance of the law no longer is an excuse. So why are so many stores, including a few in our area, still selling “bath salts,” despite complaints about the practice? That is a very good question.

Whatever the thoughts (or lack of them) going through the minds of store owners who continue to stock synthetic marijuana, hallucinogens or other drugs marketed in harmless-looking packages, law enforcement agencies should set them straight – with arrest warrants.

Again, the in-plain-sight pushers have been warned, both by DeWine and often by local officials, including some in East Ohio. If they choose to thumb their noses at the law and community sentiment, they should pay the price behind bars.