Banning bath salts a key prevention step

On behalf of substance abuse prevention providers in Southwest Colorado, I say hip, hip, hooray! to Rep. J. Paul Brown for his diligent efforts in sponsoring and pushing through the legislation that makes it illegal to buy or sell the synthetic drug commonly referred to as “bath salts.”

Before this law, bath salts were easily and cheaply available on the retail market, labeled or referred to by various misleading terms. Unfortunately, bath salts are part of a constantly changing series of designer drugs. These drugs are created to avoid the provisions of existing drug laws, usually by preparing analogs or derivatives of existing drugs by modifying their chemical structure. Their safety is untested and little if any research has been done on the toxicology or pharmacology of most of these drugs.

Policy is an important part of substance abuse prevention, and when Gov. Hickenlooper signed the bill into law June 7, he took an important step in limiting access to this particular synthetic drug. Policy is one of many prevention strategies, and an effective approach incorporates multiple strategies. We are fortunate to have dedicated community members working on a variety of prevention strategies, including community-based processes, prevention education, and alternative activities, as well as policy. For example, the Celebrating Community Norms Coalition supports a wonderfully multi-faceted approach to reducing alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. For more information, please visit

Cathy Cowles, executive director, Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners