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Local officials welcome state regulations on bath salts

The New York State Department of Health regulations outlawing  bath salts in New York state come on the heels of several local laws banning the designer drug.  The new regulations were announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday, but there could be more laws coming down the road.

Prosecutors across central New York say they are pleased with the new tools they have to fight the use of bath salts.  A new Health Department regulation expands the list of ingredients used to make bath salts illegal, and stiffens the penalties for perpetrators.

Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick admits, between the state ruling, and Syracuse city and Onondaga County laws banning bath salts, it may be hard to keep them all straight.

"Initially there's going to be some confusion. The bottom line is, though, the coordinated effort is to make the stuff illegal," said Fitzpatrick.

Cortland County District Attorney Mark Suben has the same situation, although the Cortland County legislature has banned another drug -- synthetic marijuana.  He says the best solution ultimately could come from state lawmakers, in part because of the nature of the health department ruling.

"These are not criminal offenses, they're violations," said Suben. "The state legislature can create state laws, just like drug laws that make this a very serious matter."

Lawmakers in Albany were not able to come to agreement on a state law regarding bath salts in the last session, which ended in June.  Since then though, the use of bath salts, which can lead to violent and vicious behavior, has exploded in parts of the state.  There is a proposal afoot in Albany now to criminalize the components used to make bath salts.  Cuomo says he doesn't rule that out as a next step in the fight against the designer drugs.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.