The Suffolk County Legislature banned the sale of chemicals found in some bath salts on Tuesday, resulting in a product it determined was "powdered synthetic cocaine" and has been ingested as a hallucinogen.
Sale of such bath salts has already been banned in Louisiana, North Dakota, and Florida, as well as other local municipalities, according to the county, and several others are considering the ban.
While the synthetic chemicals are most commonly found in and marketed as bath salts, they can also be found in other products that "manufacturers make with a wink of an eye," said the sponsor of the bill that calls for the ban.
"We're not banning bath salts at all, per se," said Jon Cooper, D-Huntington. "We are banning the chemical compounds, that's the best way to describe it. Because the manufacturer will call it a bath salt, or pond scum remover, or deodorizer. But what it is, is a drug."
The text of the resolution states that active synthetic ingredients in bath salts include methylone, mephedrone, and MDPV, among others, some of which bear similarities to ingredients extracted from the khat plant, an African plant with a similar stimulant effect as cocaine.
Cooper said that as a legislator eight years ago, he penned the nation's first bill to ban ephedra. Eight months later, he said, it was banned on the federal level.
"I'm hoping to see something similar to that," he said. "Because these chemicals are synthetically produced and relatively new, they have fallen under the radar screen."
Bath salts not including the harmful chemicals are exempt from the ban.
The measure passed by a unanimous 18-0 vote.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has not yet signed the bill into law.