There's no doubt bath salts have added to the workload at UMMC's ER, according to Chief Medical Officer Michael Merrill.
Merrill said emergency room staff deals with patients coming into the hospital on practically a daily basis who often need to be restrained and sedated.
"We see fairly frequently individuals coming in with intoxication and basically acute psychosis from (bath salts)," Merrill said. "It's quite common."
While Merrill is not working directly in ER, so he can't confirm specifics of patient behavior, they are often described as confused, delusional and agitated.
Those are all common traits with amphetamine-type drugs taken in high doses.
"I don't think people are trying to achieve psychosis," Merrill said. "They are just looking for the high.
"What drug users do is dose themselves for drugs," Merrill added. "They make a calculation on how much they want to take and I don’t think that is an easy calculation to make."
A miscalculation leads to an overdose and the bizarre behavior now associated with bath salts.
In Batavia, recently, we've seen reports of people climbing on roofs, waving knives and calling 9-1-1 to report the sounds of gushots fired.
Talk to just about anyone about bath salts and invariably somebody mentions face eating.
Rumor has it, people high on bath salts have a propensity to try and take a bite of other people's faces.
Merrill said there's no reliable evidence that's a behavior associated with bath salts.
"I don't know if there's anything specific about bath salts that would make anybody want to bite anybody's face," Merrill said. "I know that’s in the news, but I don’t know that’s an intoxicating feature of bath salts. It’s not known to be a typical intoxicating feature of bath salts."
One interesting aspect of reports about bath salts is the patchy nature of the seeming epidemic across the United States. Some communities, such as Batavia, Utica, Fulton and even big cities such as Los Angeles, seem to have significant problems with bath salts. Yet Merrill said he talks to colleagues in places such as San Francisco and Buffalo and is told bath salt problems are rare.
Meanwhile, the Batavia Daily News reported today that 420 Emporium, 400 Ellicott St., Batavia, has been selling a bath salt known as Amped.
The story doesn't even use the word "alleged" to describe the assertion that 420 Emporium has been selling the controlled substance.
A reporter said she observed Amped transactions Saturday night and that an employee handed a package of Amped to Councilwoman Rosemary Christian after she inquired about purchasing the drug (Christian did not complete the purchase).
An employee reportedly said the shop would continue selling Amped until today.
U.S. Attorney for Western New York William Hochul confirmed today something he told The Batavian last week, that as he understands the new law, as of July 9, when President Barack Obama signed legislation sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, it is a federal crime to sell and possess bath salts.
If it's true that 420 Emporium sold bath salts through Sunday, and the law was effectively immediately upon the president's signature, any such alleged sales would be in violation of federal law.
Also, if the store employee said sales would be discontinued, he is implicitly admitting to bath salt sales prior to today. Besides the new law, bath salts were on a Drug Enforcement Administration emergency controlled substance list prior to July 9 and illegal to sell, though the federal government had a much higher bar to cross to prove any crime.
When The Batavian entered 420 Emporium today, as soon as we identified ourselves, a stocky male employee pointed to the door and said, "Have a nice day."
We asked, "Is the information in this article accurate?"
He repeated the gesture and said, "Have a nice day."
When asked if he wanted a chance to correct any issues, he said, "Please leave."
The employee refused to answer a number of repeated questions, saying each time, "Have a nice day."
The Batavian then attempted to contact the owner of the 420 Emporium chain by calling the Brockport store and the Fulton store. Both employees took messages and the employee in Fulton offered to send a text message to the owner with our interview request. So far, the owner has not called The Batavian.