Today’s news:

Schumer bill to outlaw dangerous bath salts

Fresh on the heels of a similar state law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo three weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced last week that legislation he introduced to ban the sale of bath salts has been passed out of a key Senate committee.

Earlier this month, the governor signed a bill introduced by state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) that categorized the stimulant 4-Methylmethcathinone — also known as Mephedrone, Methylenedioxymovalcrone or MDPV — as a Schedule I controlled substance and prohibited the sale, manufacturing, possession or distribution of any products containing it in the state.

The chemical is an ingredient in several brands of bath salts and plant foods, which are being snorted, smoked and injected as a drug with effects on the body similar to cocaine and methamphetamines. Both Braunstein and Schumer have called attention to reports of violent and unusual behaviors exhibited by users of the substances as rationale for their respective bills.

Schumer’s legislation, the Combating Dangerous Synthetic Stimulants Act of 2011, would add MDPV and mephedrone to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which classifies drugs that are illegal and cannot be prescribed under any circumstances.

“Bath salts are a deadly narcotic that get displayed and sold at store counters and smoke shops like candy at a convenient store,” Schumer said in a written statement. “This bill will remove these dangerous drugs from the reach of our kids and make it clear to manufacturers that if you try to peddle this deadly toxin, you will be held accountable.”

Schumer said the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the bill and the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the companion bill.

The senator said 34 states, including New York, have banned the substance as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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