Ivory Wave: "Soothing bath salts" or dangerous drug?

It's actually genius, if you think about it. There's no need to disguise it in some other form — it's just freakin' powder in a pouch! They could even include a little plastic spoon if they wanted, for "application purposes." And most people (you know, people who aren't constantly looking for a new drug disguised as something else) wouldn't bat an eye at either the appearance of some new bath-and-spa product called Ivory Wave on the market, or its immediate moderate popularity, ostensibly while folks tried it out. It's sort of white, it's sort of grainy, it burns the shit out of your nostrils when you snort it; real "soothing bath salts" are just like that! Part of me actually kind of hopes that, in some expression of universal irony, this crap ends up in a segment on HSN.


So, OK, I get that drugs are big business, and that various nefarious organizations have chemists tirelessly manipulating molecules in an attempt to produce a substance that gets people high while getting around drug laws. And yeah, I get that these folks don't really want governmental regulatory agencies testing their product for the presence of crazy dust, so they might try putting their consumable on the market as something other than, you know, a drug. And of course I realize that some people will ingest, well, anything, really, so long as the promise of an altered sense of perception is attached.


What I don't get, and what really interests the creative huckster in me, is how a drug supplier goes about letting users know that "soothing bath salts" are actually the gateway to a potentially scrotum-ripping good time. A few posts and a few guys hanging around the schoolyard won't get it done these days; this is the era of insanely clever marketing, after all. So are there promotional companies on retainer by underworld cabals, taking samples to the junkie parks of Europe and offering a free buzz in return for a legibly composed comment card? Are there "street teams" on the prowl, hot guys and girls befriending fucked-up strangers in trendy British club bathrooms and asking if they want a hit of the latest shit?


There must be, right? Or, at the very least, something roughly analogous is going on.


Which, for some reason, is much more disconcerting than the twin realities that A) people are fabricating new ways to poison other people so long as it makes them a buck, and B) people are smoking, snorting and shooting a substance whose fabricators are so averse to medical, governmental and commercial consideration that it has to be sold as "soothing bath salts."


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In the past year or so, America's Southeastern speed freaks have been exposed to a new synthetic stimulant that's been raising heart rates, druggy online forum hits and concern among law enforcement organizations in Europe.

You know, just something to take the edge off when one can't get one's hands on the latest batch of filthy crank cooked up with allergy pills and roach killer in an abandoned convenience store by a guy who's not sure whether the stain on his wifebeater is old blood or new buffalo sauce.

Like K2 "incense" before it, this new "legal high" endeavors to duck FDA regulations and controlled-substance legislation through its branding as a product not meant for human consumption, and is sold internationally online. But its active ingredients — usually mephedrone and/or methylenedioxypyrovalerone — bear a striking structural resemblance to the psychoactive components of both Ecstasy and Meow Meow, a speedy drug now banned in Britain that was marketed as "plant fertilizer" and inspired one user to tear off his own joybag. This new product was just as clearly made with the designer-drug market in mind. And while early reports from the U.K. compared the experience to taking way too much E/MDMA, the list of side effects, which includes paranoia, hallucinations and violent outbursts, definitely implies characteristics more in line with that good ol' American psycho-grit, crystal meth.

So what, exactly, is this new upper being marketed as?

Why, "soothing bath salts," of course.

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