When a teenage boy came into Andrea Brockie’s salt shop recently looking to buy bath salts, she assumed he was acting shy because he was shopping for spa products.
After she showed him her selection of Epsom and Dead Sea salts, he told her he wasn’t looking for salts to put in his bath.
“He very shyly said, ‘No, not those kind of bath salts. The kind that can get you high,’” said Brockie, who owns and operates Selsi Sea Rocks in the St. Lawrence Market.
The boy, who looked to be about 14 or 15 years old, told Brockie he wanted to sell the drug to his friends.
Some retailers in the city who sell bath salts have gotten strange questions from people who are confusing the freshly-scented salts that you put in your bath with a synthetic drug.
The drug — which shares a name with the spa product because it comes in a white powder that looks like salt — gained international notoriety after reportedly fueling a violent face-eating attack in Miami last month.
Police also suspect, but haven’t confirmed, the drug played a role in a rowdy arrest this past weekend in the city’s west end that injured two police officers, Toronto police Const. Tony Vella said.
Police allege Harley Douglas Roulston, 24, became combative and physically fought with officers when they tried to arrest him.
According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, bath salts can give users hallucinations and make them agitated and combative.
The federal government is in the process of regulating MDPV, the drug’s main ingredient. They plan to add it to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, putting it in the same category as heroin and cocaine.
Last month, police said the use of bath salts isn’t a problem in Toronto. But they may be changing their tune.
On Sunday, a box labeled as bath salts was seized from a house on Huron St. in a search that netted $1.5 million worth of drugs and 11 firearms. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the box actually contains the drug, Vella said.
Bennett Vuong, 27, faces 82 drug and firearm-related charges in relation to the seizure.
While the drug sits in legal limbo, officials at the border also seem to be looking for it.
Maria Oliveira, co-owner of Aquatech at Highway 27 and Dixon Rd., frequently ships bath salts, along with products like bubble bath, shower gel and lotions, to customers across the border in Buffalo.
Truckloads of the company’s products have been stalled at the border after investigators spotted boxes labeled as bath salts.
“They would stop the whole thing until they investigate and they open the box that has the bath salts and see that they’re actually Epsom salts,” Oliveira said.
Selling a product with the same name as a drug has caused confusion, but Brockie said it hasn’t stopped people from buying her bath salts.
“I really don’t think that the average person that uses bath salts thinks that it’s the drug.”
Brockie warned the boy who came into her store to stay away from the drug because it could kill him “or (he) might eat someone’s face off.” She said he was surprised to learn the side-effects of the drug.
“He was so young. I couldn’t even believe it.”