As of July 10, 2012, yes, possession of "bath salts" is a federal crime that carries with it penalties similar to those if found with traditional drugs such as heroine or cocaine. The bath salt epidemic has become an increasing problem for health officials and law enforcement in America. "Bath salts" is the all-encompassing term to describe synthetic stimulants that have devastating effects on user's bodies and the people they may encounter while high. They are also troublesome for law enforcement because they are generally undetectable by drug tests.
Signs and symptoms of bath salt use include, but are not limited to, extreme agitation, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations that are extremely vivid, paranoia, including a fear that they are being attacked, and the use of bath salts has been associated with very violent behavior. Health officials and law enforcement also report that users are often naked because the bath salts raise users' body temperatures and as a result they often disrobe.
In 2011 the American Association of Poison Control Centers had 6,100 calls associated with the use of bath salts. That number skyrocketed from 2010, when there were only 304 cases reported to the Poison Control Centers. The increased numbers to the Poison Control Centers are indicative of the spread of the use of bath salts. What originally began in a few isolates states has become a National epidemic.
Federal officials cannot estimate the number of deaths associated with the use of bath salts because very often the drug does not show up on toxicology reports given at autopsies. The likelihood of death associated from using bath salts remains as high as other stimulant drugs that are used to obtain a high. Bath salts association with violent and erratic behavior may lead to even more deaths than typical controlled substances. Last April in Washington State, packets of bath salts were found on Sergeant David Franklyn Stewart after the soldier shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself after a car chase involving law enforcement officers.
The Drug Enforcement Agency cognizant of the growing use of bath salts issued a temporary ban last October on the 3 most common drugs--mephedrone, mathylone and MDPV--associated with their production. The ban became permanent this July when President Obama signed a Federal Bill that outlaws 28 synthetic drugs including bath salts. Under the law anyone convicted of selling, making or possessing the drug will face serious penalties similar to controlled substance offenses already on the books. In New Jersey possession charges for controlled substances such as heroine for less than ½ an ounce carries with it up to five years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines. Should you be found guilty of possession of more than ½ and less than 5 ounces of heroine you could face up to ten years in prison with a $75,000 fine. Finally, possession of more than 5 ounces carries a penalty with it of up to 20 years in prison with a fine up to $500,000. You may find yourself facing such harsh penalties if you are caught selling, making or possession bath salts.