Bath Salts Death: 'Imitation Cocaine' Kills Man

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 06, 2011 9:44 AM

Just a few days after Florida banned imitation cocaine, there has been a bath salt death in the Sunshine State. These "bath salts" are different than the kind you put in your tub - essentially, it is imitation cocaine, and overdosing on the drug can cause death.

Jairious McGhee, 23, is the first case of a bath salt overdose death nationwide, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

While McGhee's death is the first reported death, bath salts have been attributed to 2,500 calls to poison control centers across the country, according to ABC News. Ingesting too much of the imitation cocaine can cause paranoia, hallucinations, and rapid increases in heart rate.

Bath salts and other imitation drugs are currently sold in more than 30 states across the United States. There is no federal law banning the imitation drugs. Florida's law banning the bath salts was signed into law this past week, reports ABC News.

Before McGhee died, motorists had reported that he was acting erratically. When police arrived, McGhee was walking in and out of traffic on the street and banging on cars. Officers took him into custody, where he was taken to the local hospital. He died a little more than a day later, after his body temperature rose to 106 degrees, and suffered from brain swelling and his organs shutting down, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Could the makers of the "bath salts" be liable for McGhee's death? It's hard to say, considering the fact that they were legally sold in Florida, and continue to be legally sold throughout the country.

However, manufacturers of products do have the legal obligation to warn consumers about the potential harms of a product. While the "bath salts" were not being marketed as a cocaine substitute, it's very likely (and almost certain) that the makers of the imitation cocaine knew that their product would be ingested like a drug, and not used in a bath tub. As a result, they might have the legal obligation to warn consumers about the foreseeable medical risks of using their products.

For now, this first bath salt death, and the possibility of imitation cocaine overdoses increasing, will likely cause the federal government and lawmakers across the nation to consider implementing bans on the product.

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