“Bath Salts”: Nasty Stuff

My latest piece for PJ Media concerns the case of Brian Mulligan, an executive for Deutsche Bank in Los Angeles, who apparently overindulged in a new street drug commonly referred to as “bath salts.” The drug seems to combine all the more destructive effects of methamphetamine and PCP.  In Mulligan’s case, his alleged use of it resulted in a violent confrontation with LAPD officers back in May. It’s nasty, nasty stuff, as demonstrated in a two-part examination on KCBS. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here.

For people inclined toward the legalization of drugs, ask yourself if you want people strung out on this stuff living in your neighborhood or sharing your workplace.

  1. Sister

    You’ve solved a mystery for me, Mr. Dunphy. I had heard about this story from someone who had heard it in the Greek news. When relating it, however, there were no quotation marks around “bath salts.” They thought that people were bathing in a solution that turned them into cannibals. That’s how the story translated. Thank you for clearing this up.

    And, as for your question, what you describe directly endangers others. No, I wouldn’t want this to be legal in my neighborhood.

  2. Trace

    Curious about its addictive properties, the nature of its high and its origins. Could this be the front end of a whole new epidemic? Usually by the time it gets to the bankers it has effectively run its course.

  3. Crow

    I am always a bit surprised and mystified to meet more libertarian types who display an outstanding knowledge of economics and of the ways markets work, but simultaneously lack comprehension of the externalities associated with legalizing substances like this.

  4. Misthiocracy

    <devil’s advocate mode = on>

    If an executive from Deutsche Bank was able to buy it, despite it being illegal, then how does keeping it illegal prevent people in my neighbourhood or my workplace from using it?

    <devil’s advocate mode = off>

  5. Nyadnar17

    As oppose to the Federal Government taking my business or home away because someone was selling bath salts on my property without my knowledge? Yes legalize them.

     Also how is saying “drugs are dangerous make them illegal so they won’t bein in my neighborhood”  any different from saying “guns are dangerous make them illegal so they won’t be in my neighborhood”?

  6. CitizenOfTheRepublic

    In my experience the only reason weirder and weirder drugs are in circulation is because the simple stuff is illegal and harder and harder to distribute/acquire.  Weird/harmful drugs are not a terribly good argument for making illegal the plant-derived somewhat destructive high-making drugs.  Alcohol Prohibition encouraged whisky/gin over beer/wine/hard cider…and enriched and empowered the immigrant gang culture of contemptible New York City into nationwide criminal syndicates, which then forced ever more liberty-imperiling federal laws against organized crime*.  ”Drug” Prohibition has done the same, but without the overwhelming cultural history of alcohol in the West, most of these drugs don’t have a way to normalcy if/when drug warriors are ever willing to accept their defeat.  

    This would be why I got kicked out a federal district court jury pool last week.  The “Drug War” is unAmerican, and I will not guarantee to convict even if defendants are guilty….although they did look like they need to be “put down.”  They are product of a prohibition of widely desired products.

    *Ask Lord Black how such powers are used.   http://www.wgnradio.com/shows/ext720/wgnam-x720-black-20121014,0,7219146.mp3file

  7. Chris Deleon

    To #5:

    Guns have legitimate uses, and don’t cause anyone to go crazy.  Many of these drugs don’t have any legitimate uses for which we don’t have other substitutes.

    Also, we have the second amendment for guns.  No such thing exists in the Constitution for drugs.

  8. Duane Oyen

    Every time I read another person- they usually break down 50-50 between idealistic libertarian (this is what we tend to see at Ricochet, of course, there are a few stoners at Reason) and stoner- I remember again that those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it.

    The only thing worse than a drug war is the failure to try.  There are people who are susceptible to abusing drugs, people who simply are never tempted, and, finally, there are people who are fine if they reasonably stay away from temptation but can get burned if they get too close to the flames.  The third group includes a lot of minors who would be OK if they grew up first.  I have never seen a satisfactory response from the libertarians about the third group.

    It’s for the children!

  9. CitizenOfTheRepublic

    We will live in a more just society when 1/10th the effort put into the drug war is put into eliminating armed robbers and home invaders (e.g. I prefer a swift, public hanging for sticking guns in clerks’ faces because they have brought death in an instant to innocents), when property crimes are investigated AT ALL by city police departments, when child rapists are executed, and people who get high without doing any other harm are left the hell alone.  Sorry, but there wouldn’t be so many new toys for wanna-be Rambos, few-to-no no-knock raids.  So much less excitement in the banal work of policing in a way that benefits the citizenry of a free Republic.  The work my father did for 31 years in a highly professional Ohio State Highway Patrol…(highly professional before collective bargaining came in).

    HOWEVER, there ain’t much money in confiscating the property of the criminals who make our cities and increasingly our small towns and rural areas unlivable for decent, law-abiding citizens.  SO WE ARE ARMING TO DEFEND OURSELVES FROM THE SCUM THAT AREN’T WORTH STOPPING WHEN THERE IS A DRUG WAR TO WIN.  

  10. Dan Hanson

    As a libertarian, I draw a sharp distinction between drugs that just get you ‘high’, and ones that cause you to engage in violence.   Drugs like PCP (and apparently ‘bath salts’)  can cause uncontrollable rage, and sometimes unpredictably so long after the drug was taken.  This pushes the use of  such drugs into the category of ‘reckless endangerment’ of the public, and therefore they should be illegal.

    The same cannot be said for marijuana or even cocaine.  While both drugs may be destructive to the user, so long as they are not harming others I have no right to interfere.  There are lots of things we do which cause us personal harm; we sit on our butts and watch TV, we eat unhealthy foods, we get into debt,  we listen to Bill Maher.  All of these things may be personally destructive, but it is not the job of the state to protect us from ourselves. 

    Until roving gangs of pot smokers start raiding Cheetos factories or force people to attend Phish concerts at gunpoint,  they have a right to pursue happiness even if it’s one toke at a time.

  11. Sister

    If I remember correctly, from my days long ago as a Libertarian (I campaigned for Roger McBride.), the argument for legalizing drugs was related to the argument that people be allowed to do what they want to do without government interference, as long as it didn’t hurt anyone else. If newer drugs, such as these “bath salts,” change a person’s personality to become uncontrollable and violent, that adds a another dimension. Yes, I understand about the economic argument and the prohibition argument. These newer drugs aren’t simply ways for a person to get high, and sit in his living room waving incense  sticks around in time to his favorite music, and then get up after an hour and get back to work or school.

  12. Steven M.

    I don’t want to live next to a bath salt user.

    I hated living next to heavy drinkers. Hated, hated, hated it. 

    I didn’t mind living next to stoners. 

  13. Steven M.

    I lean libertarian, but if it can be proved that a drug will turn someone into a violent criminal, solely because they took the drug, than it needs to be outlawed. 

    It’s something we have to ponder because there will come a point where designer drugs can change personalities in very specific ways. But I don’t want to get too far into sci-fi territory. 

    This isn’t scientific by any means, but my question would be, is it more likely to cause someone to commit crime than they would after drinking alcohol? 

  14. Republic of Texas

    When you legalize drug dealing you must simultaneously and drastically increase the penalties for public intoxication, drunk driving, etc.  Most libertarians shouldn’t have a problem with that because public behaviour that harms others is the very definition of the dividing line between freedom and responsibiliy.

    Of course you’d need to be reasonable about it.  For example, instead of constantly lowering the legal limits of intoxication to the point where splitting a bottle of wine over dinner makes you a felon, we should raise the penalties for those who are seriously intoxicated.

    This is fine in theory but I’m not sure if such a program could be effectively put into place.  But I have no doubt that the current drug war, while well-intentioned, is certainly a net negative for public welfare.

    Sorry Mr. Dunphy – I greatly respect the work of public safety officers and your own writings.  I agree on goals but disagree on methods.

  15. jt

    My understanding is that drugs like “bath salts” were designed to get around the current drug laws. I’m not a big advocate of legalization but as  CitizenOfTheRepublic points the case is that making well-understood, arguably safer drugs illegal creates a market for drugs like bath salts.

  16. Indaba

    It is a tough questiion. My experience with drug users is they vary across society. I have surgons who do a bit of pot and think its fun and hip. These bath salts are not tge drugs of their youth though.

    so Citizenoftgerepublic may be right that if there were lower level drugs to buy at a store, it might be enough to keep most happy enough.

    The Canadian govt runs the liquor business here in TO, Canada. They keep prices high and access difficult. They have turned it into a bureaucrasy.  Giving drugs to the govt woukd keep everyone doped enough who wants to be and tax revenue to the govt that is currently going to gangs.

    Drugs do cost society in redistribution of tax payer funds. The Canadian govt. says it charges sin taxes to cover costs. Alcoholics and druggies may die earlier too, saving money.

    but that Deutsche Bank guy, the wife must be having a great time with him! Why would he do that?

  17. CitizenOfTheRepublic

    Amen.

    Republic of Texas: When you legalize drug dealing you must simultaneously and drastically increase the penalties for public intoxication, drunk driving, etc.  Most libertarians shouldn’t have a problem with that because public behaviour that harms others is the very definition of the dividing line between freedom and responsibiliy.

    Of course you’d need to be reasonable about it.  For example, instead of constantly lowering the legal limits of intoxication to the point where splitting a bottle of wine over dinner makes you a felon, we should raise the penalties for those who are seriously intoxicated.

    This is fine in theory but I’m not sure if such a program could be effectively put into place.  But I have no doubt that the current drug war, while well-intentioned, is certainly a net negative for public welfare.

    Sorry Mr. Dunphy – I greatly respect the work of public safety officers and your own writings.  I agree on goals but disagree on methods. · 7 minutes ago

  18. Misthiocracy

    <devil’s advocate mode = on>

    3de9b_drug-spending-v-addiction.gif.jpgAs drug war spending has skyrocketed, the rate of drug addiction has stayed completely flat, going back to 1970.

    So, maybe keep psychotropic drugs illegal, but roll back enforcement costs to 1970 levels, since increased spending  doesn’t seem to make a lick of difference.

    <devil’s advocate mode = off>

    Source: http://www.mattgroff.com/questions-on-the-1315-project-chart/

    More info, subdivided by individual drugs: http://www.briancbennett.com/charts/fed-data/annual-use.htm

  19. Bird Jaguar IV
    CitizenOfTheRepublic: …Alcohol Prohibition encouraged whisky/gin over beer/wine/hard cider…and enriched and empowered the immigrant gang culture of contemptible New York City into nationwide criminal syndicates, which then forced ever more liberty-imperiling federal laws against organized crime…

    As some say, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

  20. Nick Stuart

    What is the cost of having everything from marijuana to heroin to bath salts illegal?

    There’s no middle ground? Legalize some, not others? Do we really need to have people in prison for posession of several ounces of marijuana?

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