Flomaton police seize ‘bath salts’

Published 4:59 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A week after the Alabama Department of Public Health determined that so-called “bath salts” are an illegal substance, Flomaton police arrested a woman on DUI charges who also had the bath salts in her car, Police Chief Geoff McGraw said.

Rebecca G. Murphy, 35, was arrested by Flomaton Police at the intersection of Alabama Highway 113 and U.S. 31 in Flomaton. She was charged with driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia following a search of her vehicle, McGraw said. Adderall and Ambien as well as two packages containing bath salts were also found in the vehicle, he said.

McGraw said officers noticed erratic driving patterns of the vehicle and suspected Murphy might be driving under the influence of some substance.

“When our officer made the traffic stop he noticed some unusual behavior from the driver,” McGraw said. “Her speech was slurred and she appeared disoriented and was sweating.”

McGraw said officers performed a roadside sobriety test, which Murphy failed. She was taken into custody and charged with DUI.

After officers searched Murphy’s car, an additional charge was filed against her when paraphernalia was found in the vehicle.

“Two bags of bath salts were found in the vehicle,” McGraw said. “A straw used to ingest the substance was also recovered from the vehicle.”

McGraw said the discovery of bath salts in the vehicle was the first “find” by the department. The arrest prompted McGraw to bring the use of the substance to the public’s attention.

“We really need to warn people about the bath salts and the dangers of using them,” McGraw said. “This drug completely changes the personality and can have some serious consequences. One case that I’ve heard about involved a woman in Panama City that chased her mother with a machete. Bath salts can cause the Jekyll/Hyde effect on people.”

McGraw said the substance is used similar to cocaine in that it is typically “snorted” through a straw or other similar object.

“Some states are working on outlawing the sale of bath salts,” McGraw said. “It has already been banned in Florida.”

Alabama officials have already worked to have bath salts placed on the Alabama Controlled Substances List by an emergency rule last week.

State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson said the rule is aimed at stopping the sale of the drug that has previously been available over the counter at convenience stores and gas stations and purchased online.

“The emergency rule is effective immediately,” Williamson said. “These powdered stimulants pose a serious health threat and have great potential for abuse.”

Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said no other arrests have been made in connection with bath salts in the county.

“We are giving people an opportunity to get rid of them (bath salts),” Smith said. “To have them is a violation of law. We are going to be enforcing this. Anyone who uses it has to know that it is a dangerous substance.”