Normally in Florida, when the government plans to make something illegal, whether it is certain conduct by a person or possession of some new drug the government is afraid of, the Florida legislature will come up with a new criminal law. Congress does the same thing on the federal level. However, the DEA has authority to ban certain substances on a more immediate and temporary basis if the DEA determines the substance is dangerous. The DEA has recently acted to ban certain “bath salts”, more particularly known as mephedrone, methylone and 3,4 methyleneoxypyrovalerone. These “bath salts” have become more popular in Florida over the last couple of years. They are known by the more common names of Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and Bliss.
The DEA ban classifies the “bath salts” as Schedule I controlled substances and makes it illegal to possess or sell these “bath salts” for at least a year. During the time of the temporary ban, the DEA is supposed to study the substances to determine if they are dangerous and a permanent ban is appropriate. The DEA is concerned that these “bath salts” may cause extreme paranoia and violent episodes among other side effects. While the DEA does have authority to ban potentially dangerous drugs more quickly than Congress and state legislatures, the problem the DEA has is they must specifically identify which substances are being banned. However, the people making these drugs can quickly manufacture new, derivative substances not covered by the ban and essentially outrun the DEA’s efforts.