SPRINGFIELD -- Hallucinogenic powders with names like “Ivory Wave,” “White Lightning” and “Zoom” may soon be illegal in Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD -- Hallucinogenic powders with names like “Ivory Wave,” “White Lightning” and “Zoom” may soon be illegal in Illinois.

The Illinois House Wednesday passed House Bill 2089, which would make the substance MDPV – the key psychoactive ingredient in those powders – illegal.

“These substances are legal in many states, although they have effects similar to cocaine and methamphetamine,” said the sponsor, Rep. Wayne Rosenthal, R-Morrisonville. “They’re sold in convenience stores as ‘bath salts,’ ‘plant food,’ but a 1-ounce package … is sold for $60, and it’s just below the street value of cocaine.”

According to Ivory Wave’s website, the powders sell for $36.31 for 500 milligrams, which is less than 2 percent of one ounce. Bath salts for foot baths typically sell for between $2 and $5 an ounce.

The street value of a comparable amount of cocaine is $80 to $100, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Jim Vazzi, who brought the proposal to Rosenthal.

“We’ve had several overdoses in our county on bath salts,” Vazzi said. “We’ve had them where their (the overdosers’) heartbeat is rapid, they become delirious, pull out arm hair and hair out of their head and see little bitty men coming from outer space.”

Hospitals in Montgomery County, which have seen eight overdoses, were unable to test for the drug or prescribe a treatment, because they did not know what they were treating, Vazzi said.

There has been little research into MDPV, and its lethality is unknown.

The problem for law enforcement is that people are getting hurt, but not doing anything technically illegal, Vazzi said.

There have been no reports of use or abuse of bath salts in Sangamon County, Sheriff Neil Williamson said. The closest place somebody could find the drug would be Litchfield or online, he said.

The bill passed the House with a vote of 113-3.

Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, who cast one of the “no” votes, questioned how effective a ban would be.

“We can continue to outlaw substances that are legal, and because people use them illegally, we pass a law,” Davis said. “What will they pick next week? Will they decide ginger gets you high, or cinnamon or clover? Liz Taylor’s new perfume?”

The state should instead look at why people to feel the need to abuse drugs and address those conditions, she said.

A similar measure, Senate Bill 1034, sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, is waiting to be heard by that chamber.

 

Andy Brownfield can be reached at (217) 782-3095.