Delaware issued an emergency order on Friday banning drugs known as bath salts, powerful stimulants that can mimic the effects of cocaine, LSD or methamphetamine, Governor Jack Markell said.
Secretary of State Jeff Bullock signed an "emergency rule" that makes the compound of drugs illegal for 120 days in Delaware.
That's enough time, with a possible 60-day extension, for the state's General Assembly to reconvene as planned in January 2012 and pass legislation, currently being developed, to permanently ban the drugs, the governor said.
"People are getting sick, suicidal and very, very violent. These drugs are nasty and dangerous," Markell said.
Bath salts have emerged in some places as legal alternatives to cocaine and methamphetamines, and versions of the substances have been banned in the European Union, Australia, Canada and Israel, and many U.S. states.
The Delaware move makes possession of bath salts a crime in the state, with the most serious felony count punishable by up to eight years in prison.
Marketed under such names as "Ivory Wave," "Purple Wave," "Vanilla Sky" or "Bliss," the designer drug typically can be bought at tobacco shops and gas stations, and online, authorities said.
Bath salts are commonly smoked, snorted or injected. Users experience an intense high, euphoria, extreme energy, hallucinations, insomnia and are easily provoked to anger, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Three chemicals are used to produce bath salts - mephedrone, methylone, and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), the governor said in a statement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the chemicals for human consumption or medical use, and there is no oversight of their manufacture, Delaware officials said.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)