The white powder marketed as bath salts under such names as Ivory Wave and Vanilla Sky mimics cocaine and LSD when snorted or injected. And as of today, it's illegal in Florida. Attorney General Pam Bondi today issued an emergency rule that makes possession or distribution of the chemical a third-degree felony. The rule will remain in place for 90 days and legislators say they plan to pass a law making the substance illegal permanently.
Until now, the packets of powder have been sold in convenience stores and head shops. Bondi said she wanted to get the order in place before spring breakers hit the Panhandle beaches, where use of the substance is prevalent.
"It makes you think you’re seeing monsters and it also makes you think that you can fly and there are a lot of balconies out there," Bondi said at a news conference as she held up packets of the stuff, one of which was purchased in a shopping mall.
Plans call for either adding product to existing bills that would ban fake marijuana or introducing stand alone legislation.
"This product is simply up to no good," Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who joined Bondi at the news conference. "We need to act quickly to make sure kids ar protected." Also there: Rep. Jimmy Patronis of Panama City and Rep. Janet Adkins of Fernandina Beach, who introduced legislation banning the fake weed.
Bondi said she issued the rule at the request of Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen, who said the experience there "has been to the point of almost lethal." Side effects reportedly include increased heart rate, nosebleeds, hallucinations, severe paranoia, seizures, and kidney failure.
In one case, a man who had ingested the substance displayed near "superhuman strength" and required seven officers to subdue him, McKeithen said. In another instance, a woman tried to chop her mother's head off with a machete, thinking she was a monster, he said.
"We had to do something," McKeithen said. "We asked for help and we got it."