Northeast Pennsylvania's connection to the bath salts epidemic will be featured on Sunday's broadcast of NBC's "Dateline."
The episode will be aired at 7 p.m. and will show interviews with Dr. William J. Dempsey Jr., an emergency room doctor at Community Medical Center, and a Bradford County resident, who shared his experience using the hallucinogenic designer drug.
In an April interview, Dr. Dempsey told the show's producers that bath salts was "a drug that he had never heard of becoming an epidemic" in the area, Amy Lynn, a network spokeswoman, said.
Dr. Dempsey recently testified before a Lackawanna County judge panel seeking a permanent injunction banning its sale that the hospital treated at least 200 people who used the drug, according to Times-Tribune archives.
The drug produces a high similar to cocaine and amphetamine and has been connected to a string of crimes in the area: a man allegedly broke into a monastery and stabbed a priest in the face in Scranton in March, among other high-profile incidents.
Following the injunction issued in April banning the sale, local law enforcement officials claim there has been a significant decrease in crimes associated with the drug and hospitalizations.
In April, Lackawanna County commissioners adopted an emergency ordinance banning the distribution, manufacture, possession or use of bath salts. The same month, Luzerne County President Judge Thomas F. Burke signed an injunction to permanently ban and criminalize the sale of bath salts.
The NBC segment, dubbed "The Hansen Files" and reported by Dateline's Chris Hansen, goes undercover to reveal how easy it is to purchase the drug, and includes interviews with a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, and segments in Greenwich Village, New York City, and Minneapolis.
The show also interviewed a Bradford County resident who told them how easy it was to purchase the drug only a few miles from his Athens home, Ms. Lynn said.
BY STEVE MCCONNELL (STAFF WRITER)
Published: May 21, 2011
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Dateline to air segment on bath salts featuring NEPA