Like law enforcement officials and legislators in many other states, ours in West Virginia spent several years playing catch-up with drug pushers.
Using new chemicals and combinations of them, the pushers tried to stay one step ahead of the law by producing narcotic and/or hallucinogenic substances not specifically banned by statutes. Innocent-sounding names were used to market the drugs, which were sold openly.
But West Virginia legislators, along with their peers in many other states, caught on quickly. They enacted statutes covering a variety of synthetic ingredients, including those used to make "bath salts."
That seems to have helped. Police are cracking down on "bath salts" distributors, sending some to jail. And the number of drug overdoses reported from "bath salts" in West Virginia declined from 250 in 2001 to 48 last year.
That is wonderful news. Now, however, both law enforcement and legislators must be ready for the pushers' next move - hopefully countering it before it is made.