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Bath salts overdoses decline in state

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. -- West Virginia has seen a decline in overdoses from bath salts since a law making the drug's ingredients illegal went into effect last year.

Forty-three cases were reported in 2012, compared to 250 in 2011, said Dr. Elizabeth Scharman, director of the West Virginia Poison Control Center.

Scharman told The Exponent Telegram that the number of cases fell significantly during the last four months of the year. Thirty-one of last year's cases were reported before the end of August.

In April 2012, authorities shut down two stores in Harrison and Upshur counties that were major suppliers of bath salts in north-central West Virginia. Owner Jeffrey Paglia pleaded guilty last November to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of structuring monetary transactions to evade reporting requirements on income from the stores. He is awaiting sentencing.

"I really feel we have put a dent in it with the enforcement aspect with the task force and patrol," Clarksburg Police Chief Marshall Goff told the newspaper. "It is something that law enforcement as a whole has been concentrating on."

"The north central region as a whole has banded together to attempt to eliminate this stuff," Goff said. "It is a combination of police on all levels, government officials and residents coming together to fight this problem."

Harrison County Sheriff Albert Marano said police are still seeing bath salts abuse in his county. But it's not as prevalent as it once was.

Despite the decline, synthetic stimulants continue to be a problem in the state. After the law went into effect, people began modifying ingredients.

"We can't identify what the active ingredients are. It will be a continuing issue to keep up with changing formulas they are coming up with," Scharman said. "There are at least five different chemical classes of psychedelic stimulants. We group them together as emerging psychoactive substances here and in surrounding states."

Del. Richard Iaquinta, D-Harrison, said he believes the law would cover most of the drugs' modifications, and it would help overcome some of the previous obstacles.

"I haven't talked to anybody that would suggest that we revisit that," he said.


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