HARRISBURG -- Synthetic marijuana, the hallucinogenic plant salvia and synthetic cocaine known as "bath salts," soon will be off the shelves in Pennsylvania.
Gov. Tom Corbett on Thursday signed legislation banning the sale of the manufactured drugs that are readily available in smoke shops and convenience stores, primarily in the eastern part of the state.
Bath salts, which are unrelated to traditional bath products, have been known to cause hallucinations and violent, erratic behavior. "We haven't seen a lot of it in Western Pennsylvania, but our approach was that this is something we need to get out ahead of," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., R-Rochester.
Both chambers approved the bill unanimously.
"These are drugs that were created not only to produce powerful highs but also to skirt Pennsylvania laws," said Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr., who also is president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association.
He said he expects the new law to be an effective deterrent but predicts new drugs will soon replace them. "The chemists out there working and creating new synthetic drugs are sometimes a step ahead of us," he said.
The ban takes effect in 60 days, but Mr. Corbett is asking store owners to take synthetic drugs off their shelves now.
After Aug. 23, anyone convicted of possession of the designer drugs can be fined as much as $1,000 and sentenced to up to a year in prison. Convicted dealers can be fined up to $15,000 and sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Pennsylvania is the fourth state to ban bath salts and one of more than a dozen that have banned synthetic marijuana.
Tracie Mauriello: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-2141.