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Prosecutors say dangerous designer drugs arrive in Alaska

Posted: November 16, 2011 - 1:02am

ANCHORAGE — A year after Anchorage outlawed a new street drug known as Spice, K2 or Spike, another assortment of new and dangerous designer drugs is being sold in Alaska, a city prosecutor said.

The new drugs are chemical stimulants that mimic the effects of cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine, and are sold under names like Pure Ivory, White Rush and Synergy, according to a story in Tuesday’s Anchorage Daily News.

The drugs are sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food,” and when ingested can cause delusions, seizures, heart palpitations and other health emergencies, said Assistant Anchorage prosecutor Jennifer Messick. She talked about the issue with Anchorage Assembly members at a work session earlier this month.

The Anchorage Assembly last week made it illegal to sell, use or possess the chemical compounds found in the “bath salt” group of drugs. State Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Alaska, said he also plans to introduce a state bill that would ban the chemicals used in bath salts.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration this year added the ingredients of the synthetic drugs to a list of controlled substances that are illegal to sell or possess in the United States.

Anchorage city attorney Dennis Wheeler said a state law will help because the federal government may not prosecute many of the lower-level cases. However, the new rules are difficult to enforce and fresh versions of designer drugs can appear at any time.

“In just over a year, we went from five compounds in Spice to 400-something substances out there as of July,” Messick said.

Messick said the drugs are appearing locally “quite a bit.”

Providence Alaska Medical Center psychiatric nurse practitioner Heather Brock said this year she’s seen about one person a month who is sick enough from the bath salt family of drugs to be admitted to the hospital. They’ve either told her what they’ve taken or they’ve brought in the package, she said.

Other users may have just been seen in the emergency room.

People snort or swallow the drugs or even put them up their rectums, Brock said.

“People are confused, agitated, they have increased heart rates, a couple cases of arrhythmia,” she said. “They’re very paranoid, like you would see in any kind of stimulant.”

In at least one case, a person mixed a bath salt drug with cocaine, causing a bad reaction, she said.

Dr. Jeff Baurick, who works in the emergency room at Alaska Regional Hospital, said he’s had one bath salt case in the past few months and has heard of a few other patients seen by one of the nine other ER doctors there.

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