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Bath Salts Forum held at Utica College

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Over 100 students and other members of the community gathered in Utica College's Carbone Auditorium Wednesday for a bath salts forum. The presentation and discussion was meant to continue to raise public awareness on the dangerous synthetic drugs, despite their recent decrease in the area.

Dr. Jeanna Maraffa, Clinical Toxicologist at the Upstate New York Poison control center gave the presentation beside a panel of local law makers, law enforcement and prosecutors. Dr. Maraffa gave insight on the composition of the drugs, and warning signs parents, teachers and students can look for with bath salts as well as other new drugs hitting the markets.

"Bath Salts is really just on slang term for these new designer drugs but really now that a lot of legislation has been put in place in regards to "bath salts" there's other things and other products such as plant food, pond cleaner, other things," said Dr. Maraffa. "The names are deceiving very similar to the name of bath salts and are new designer drugs that are really casing some significant problems in our community."

Following Dr. Mareffa's presentation was a panel discussion with Senator Joseph Griffo, Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol, NYS Police Captain Francis Coots and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara. They discussed the recent developments to combat the drugs and what led to their success.

"Really two things happened at the same time, the first thing was the federal government, the DEA came in and they raided one of the largest suppliers in the area and I think they really addressed the supply end of it," said Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara. "And the other thing that happened around the same time is the county passed a law criminalizing the possession of bath salts."

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said that he has seen a definite decrease in those selling and using bath salts since the raids and recent laws but that there are still many misconceptions on the drugs. He says many people still think that the synthetic drugs called bath salts are the fragrant products that you would put in a bath and thinking that people with the bizarre behaviors just overdosed, when they can happen to any user.

Senator Joseph Griffo added that while the decrease is a good thing, synthetic drug use is still a problem lawmakers need to continue to work on.

"I do believe that you need the laws in the books to provide the resources to law enforcement and prosecutors," said Senator Griffo. "If we continue to engage and let people know that this is unacceptable and there will be a consequence to this, I think that's what contributes to people knowing that this is something that they may not want to be involved with."

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