San Bernardino County, CA, October 29, 2013 – Sheriff’s deputies have served dozens of smoke shops and liquor stores throughout the county with a letter outlining the ban on selling synthetic drugs.

Business owners are being given a chance to dispose of “spice” or “bath salts” legally and avoid criminal prosecution. During a recent sweep, five locations voluntarily surrendered nearly 200 packets of the product known as “spice” – removing 746 grams of it from store shelves.

Spice is a mixture of herbs sprayed with synthetic chemicals and smoked. Bath salts are synthetic chemicals in a powder or crystal form that’s snorted or injected. The designer drugs are formulated to create the same effects of more common drugs, such as marijuana, PCP or methamphetamine, but to not be detected on standard drug tests. For this reason, abuse tends to run rampant in professions requiring drug testing.

Spice is packaged with colorful cartoon icons, such as Scooby Doo or the Superman logo, to appeal to youth. They’re falsely marketed as potpourri, decorative sand, shoe deodorizers or glass cleaner.

“Some business owners may not understand exactly what they are selling,” Sheriff John McMahon said.

The effects of these highly addictive drugs range greatly because there is no prescribed dosage on any of the packages. Users have been known to suffer cardiac arrest, brain seizures, tremors, excited delirium or homicidal tendencies — making them extremely dangerous for law enforcement officials who are called to respond to those under the influence. Others have extraordinary strength, similar to the effects associated with PCP use, making the Taser and other force options ineffective. While producers of bath salts promise a euphoric high, similar to cocaine or meth, the psychotic results of the synthetic drugs are far more severe and addictive.