CLAREMONT, Vt.- New Hampshire is taking a strong stand against Alpha-PHP, a common variation of bath salts that officials say has overtaken opioids as the most serious threat to public health.
The synthetic drug first appeared in the county about five years ago. Last week, the state Department of Health and Human Services added it to the state’s list of controlled drugs.
At a press conference Monday, Marc Hathaway, Sullivan County Attorney, said the new classification will allow law enforcement to crack down on the use and sale of the substance.
“By the criminalization of bath salts, we will drive people away from this behavior,” he said. “We will drive those who have not yet been engaged by the criminal justice system into appropriate counseling.”
The effects of Alpha-PHP are reportedly similar to those of cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy.
“We’ll see people who have overheated, their bizarre behavior, their paranoia is running wild, they’re attempting to hurt themselves,” Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase said.
Chase said trafficking of the drug is prevalent in his community because it is easily acquired online and, until last week, manufacturing, selling, possessing or using it was legal.
“You know the public thinks bath salts are something you truly put in your bath,” he said. “But this is a synthetic drug that similarly looks like bath salts.”
As a Schedule I drug, the maximum penalty for a first offense is a maximum penalty of 3 ½-to-seven years in jail and a $25,000 fine.