Designer drug for sale legally in Knox as plant food, bath salt

Designer drug for sale legally in Knoxville as plant food, bath salts

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Molly's Plant Food comes in a small tie-dyed packet. Molly's Plant Food comes in a small tie-dyed packet.
It has a single pill filled with white powder and costs about $15. It has a single pill filled with white powder and costs about $15.

By JAMIE LYNN DROHAN
6 News Reporter 

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The newest designer drug to hit East Tennessee is legal, for now. It's being marketed as plant food and even bath salts, but the main ingredients are synthetic stimulants.

"It's so new and there's just so many side effects that are very similar to what you'd see with cocaine and Ecstasy," said Heather Sutton of the Metropolitan Drug Commission.

In fact, some people refer to this as legal cocaine or legal Ecstasy. Some of the stimulants it contains are mephedrone and 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV).

White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske said earlier in February the stimulants can cause chest pains, increased blood pressure and heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions.

The website Mollysplantfood.com says the substance is "for plants only and not for human consumption."

Molly's Plant Food comes in a small tie-dyed packet. It has a single pill filled with white powder and costs about $15.

It's fairly new to the East Tennessee area. 6 News was able to buy it Tuesday at a store in Knoxville. It was next to the bubblegum at the cash register.

A 6 News photographer went back to the store with a hidden camera to make a purchase and find out more. He was told they had sold out of it, but they had ordered more for later in the week.

Jeffrey Walkley, with Mayo Garden Center, says they have received many calls in the last few weeks from people asking for Molly's Plant Food. Some people even want to know if they carry bath salts.

"As far as we knew, it was just another miracle grow thing. I don't even know if anyone else around here knew about it except the cashiers because they were getting all these calls. We just thought it was a new product," Walkley said.

Sometimes the bath salts are sold under brand names like "Ivory Wave" or "Purple Wave."

A search on Google nets pages and pages of comments. One person writes, "Starting to see it pop up in gas stations as 'molly's plant food' and 'rave-on bath salt.' I know a couple people who have done it, and it is evidently exactly the same as ecstasy but it keeps you up for around 2-3 days like meth does." 

Another person wrote, "I wouldn't say 'deadly' like it's an automatic death sentence, however it is just as deadly as MDMA or ecstasy or cocaine and there is no reason for it to be legal, that's for sure.  

Despite that warning, this comment followed, "Cool, where did you say someone can get this stuff?"

State lawmakers are working to ban the products after several reports linking it to medical emergencies in West and Middle Tennessee.

The Tennessee Poison Center says there have been five reported overdoses from these products in the past year.

"We need to take a good hard look at what we need to do to get a little control of these bath salts before they do become an epidemic like meth," said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn.

"The packaging of this stuff is such that it is marketed directly towards teens and young adults. You go into a convenience store and it's sitting right there. Honestly, it's just synthetic ecstasy, synthetic cocaine is what it is. The question is, how in the world can they just walk into a store and buy this," said Sen. Eric Stewart (D-Belvidere). 

The substances are so new, drug experts still don't know much about them.

"It's come about so recently that there hasn't been clinical studies done on it. Students in high school haven't been surveyed as to whether they are using this type of substance. There really is no way to know if it is being used. New drugs are cropping up all the time so it could be a bigger problem if mephedrone is not taken care of and handled through the legal system," Heather Sutton said.

Hawaii, Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, and North Dakota are also considering legislation to ban the products.

Australia, Canada, and Israel have already banned them.

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