FULTON - Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson is calling for a ban of a new legal substance people are using to get high.
Ivory Wave Salts, or Ivory, is a legal substance available for purchase at several stores in the Northeast Mississippi area that users are snorting or injecting to get high. The effects, users claim, is similar to that of crystal meth.
"It affects people differently," Dickinson said. "The biggest problem with the stuff is that it causes people to hallucinate."
This is the second legal narcotic substitute to emerge within the last year. The state of Mississippi just recently banned Spice - a product that mimicked marijuana - from store shelves. Now, Ivory has emerged to take its place, and the county's sheriff said it's far worse.
"When Spice became outlawed, this stuff popped up. It's far more dangerous than Spice," Dickinson said. "I think these chemists realize they have this window of opportunity to push this stuff before laws are brought into place to stop it. They know they have just so long to make a profit with this stuff before it's outlawed."
Dickinson said there are currently no stores in Itawamba County that are selling Ivory Wave, but there are several in Lee County that have it available. The product is a bath salt.
"We've gone and bought this stuff ourselves," Dickinson said. "This stuff is perfectly legal right now."
The danger comes from the product's hallucinogenic properties, which already have given local law enforcement trouble.
"About a month ago, we got a call from someone who thought a person was breaking into the house," Dickinson said. "When we got there, it was obvious no one was trying to break in. They were inside, shooting the house up thinking someone was coming in on them. When we got in there, we found two packs of the Ivory Wave. They had it there on a little mirror next to a straw. They had been snorting it all night and it made them see things."
Similarly, deputies encountered more Ivory users who thought they were demons.
"They actually thought the devil had come for them," Dickinson said. "You can imagine that, if you really thought something like that was coming for you, the kind of fight you'd put up."
During a third encounter, the user was driving and wrecked his car into another on Hardins Chapel Road.
"It's going to kill somebody," Dickinson said. "Innocent people are going to end up getting hurt."
Recently, The Itawamba County Times received a letter from a resident claiming to be an Ivory Wave user. Although he asked that his identity not be published, he also said he wanted people to know about the dangers of the legal drug.
"Ivory Wave is exactly that: It's a wave of emotional and psychological destruction," the alleged user wrote. "[It causes] hallucinations, paranoia and long periods of staying awake."
The user described his experiences using the product, including his paranoid delusions.
"By the fifth day of being awake, I kept thinking I was being followed," he said. "I was talking to people who weren't there and seeing those same people ... On the sixth day I almost lost my grip."
The user claimed to have been awake for nine days. During that time, he had only eaten twice. He said he was arrested, which likely saved his life.
"I was lucky," he said. "Some stories don't end in jail; some end in death."
Death is exactly what Dickinson is worried about. Although, when Spice was readily available, the sheriff recommended the product not be banned at the local level until the state outlawed it.
"With the problems we were seeing with Spice, I tended to go along with the state as far as outlawing it. Ivory, however, I'm taking a different stance because it is so dangerous," he said. "It needs to be outlawed as soon as possible by whomever has the authority to outlaw it."
Currently, if a person is arrested high on Ivory, he or she can be charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace, but will not face drug charges. Dickinson believes that will change soon.
Still, he said he worries about the future and the next drug that will emerge on store shelves. It's an ongoing battle, one in which he sees no end.
"As long as there are labs and people are smart enough to figure out how to mix stuff together, we'll always be dealing with something like this," the sheriff said.
by ADAM ARMOUR / Itawamba County Times
november 14, 2010
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