Last week, Congress only approved a ban to remove 2 of 17 bath salts that are being used as a recreational street drug.
Federal law enforcement officials are outraged by the political process blocking a ban to remove all “bath salt” chemicals off of the streets.
"Bath salts are the worst of the worst of the synthetic drugs," said a law enforcement source. "It makes no sense why they aren't all included in the bill."
The Drug Enforcement Administration submitted a list of 41 synthetic drugs for Congress to place on their “Schedule I” list of controlled substances. This list typically includes heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
The House of Representatives recently passed a bill addressing all 17 variants of bath salts to the government’s list. The Senate amended the bill by only adding two of the bath salt elements, MDPV and mephedrone.
During conference talks, the House and Senate agreed to criminalize 26 synthetic drugs including those found in marijuana, “K2”, and “Spice.” The governing bodies only named the same two compounds for bath salts mentioned in the Senate bill.
These two drugs were already labeled as illegal when they were initial placed on the government’s “emergency list” last year.
The number of calls to Poison Control Centers related to the abuse of bath salts rose from 303 to 6,000 nationwide between 2010 and 2011.
One of the stimulants on the proposed list was used in a May attack when a suspect high on bath salts allegedly chewed off a homeless man’s face.
Police officials hope that a complete ban of the substance will make it easier to prosecute criminals who make, buy, and sell the chemicals.
"There are no questions about the drug if it's a controlled substance. We just know it's illegal and can get to work. Already, lots of time is wasted just waiting for lab results to come back," said a DEA official.
DEA officials believe that the other 15 substances were overlooked because legislators like Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, do not view it as an immediate public threat.
"Bath salts were in the House bill. And they're not in this one. You'd have to ask Sen. Leahy why that happened," said a staffer for a House Republican.
Although Leahy was not available to respond, a staffer defended Leahy’s decision.
"Leahy's focus was to get done what the Senate started. The House bill was out there, but not in a formal way," the committee staffer said. "Sen. Leahy has been clear that scheduling controlled substances is not something to be taken lightly."
However, the approved bill did give the DEA authority to declare drugs as illegal by placing them on a two-year “emergency schedule.” Currently, the agency can declare drugs on a one year “emergency schedule.”