LEWISTON — Local police detectives swept through shops in the Twin Cities on Thursday, alerting owners and managers that so-called “bath salts” have been banned in Maine under emergency legislation signed a day earlier by Gov. Paul LePage.

The synthetic product is sold largely in head shops and variety stores. When snorted, smoked or swallowed, it can give users a euphoric feeling stronger than that brought on by the use of cocaine, police said.

The substance had been legal until the new law, passed earlier this year by the Maine Legislature, took effect Thursday.

The white or brown crumbly powder is water-soluble and is marketed as “soothing bath salts” or “concentrated bath salts” under a variety of names such as Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and White Rush, police said.

A spokeswoman at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center said there were three patients reporting bath salts-related incidences at the hospital’s emergency room last week.

Adverse medical reactions to ingestion of the product can include anxiety and insomnia, as well as seizures and renal failure.

Several other states have banned the substance, along with several countries.

Police detectives visited local head shops and neighborhood variety stores to tell them about the new law and had them remove the product from their shelves. According to the detectives, the product did not appear to have been sold at pharmacies or larger grocery stores, Lewiston police Lt. Mark Cornelio said.

One Lewiston detective said he and other officers checked eight stores in Lewiston and found them all to be in compliance with the new law.

Jason Rioux, manager of After Hours Boutique on Lisbon Street, said his shop never sold the product, but there appeared to be plenty of demand for it, from both customers and suppliers.

Rioux’s shop had received thousands of calls from people seeking the bath salts from all over the state since February, he said. So many distributors were calling that he stopped answering out-of-state phone calls, some from as far away as North Carolina and Ohio, he said.

He and the shop’s owner were worried that sale of the stuff might attract the wrong element.

“That’s not the type of people we’re trying to market to,” Rioux said.

“The reason we decided not to sell it, when we set up this store, we wanted to have a nice, well-lit smoke shop, a tobacco shop that wasn’t like your average dingy, low-life head shop that they get the reputation of being,” he said. “We agreed we didn’t want that type of crap coming into the store.”

With the emergency ban in effect, Rioux wondered how much of the product shops had in stock that they now can’t sell.

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Toxicity and side effects of psychoactive “bath salts”:

* Increased heart rate.

* Agitation.

* Diminished requirement for sleep.

* Lack of appetite.

* Increased alertness or awareness.

* Anxiety.

* Fits and delusions.

* Nose bleeds.

More serious side effects:

* Blood circulation problems, including increased blood pressure.

* Seizures.

* Muscle spasms.

* Muscle damage.

* Loss of bowel control.

* Hallucinations.

* Aggression.

* Severe paranoia.

* Panic attacks.

* Sharp increase in body temperature.

* Risk of renal failure

Some of the street names associated with bath salts:

* Ivory Wave.

* Vanilla Sky.

* Pure Ivory.

* Whack.

* Bolivian Bath.

* Purple Wave.

* Charge.

* Sextacy.

* Ocean Burst.

* Gloom.

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