HOUSTON—Concern is growing over a new stimulant called "bath salts" that’s being found at local smoke shops at an increased rate.
On the streets it’s known as "legal cocaine" or "legal speed," but a man who wants to remain anonymous says it should be illegal.
His younger brother bought some in Katy.
"He’s like, ‘it’s not a big deal, not illegal, it’s bath salt," he told his brother. "He pulled it out and it looks like a little blue Carmex bottle."
He said the powdery substance caused him to be paranoid, hallucinate and even consider suicide.
"All of a sudden, he’s talking about messing up and eveybody’s all over him and he might as well just kill himself," he said.
Dr. Thomas Kosten with Baylor College of Medicine said the product is sold under several different names.
"This is related to the amphetamine," said Kosten. "The initial affect from that activation usually is pleasure, the same as dopamine. When you have too much, it produces psychotic symptoms."
Three deaths and dozens of illnesses in Louisiana prompted Governor Bobby Jindal to outlaw the substance through an emergency order. Jindal has since asked the Drug Enforcement Agency to investigate if his state is a national distribution center.
If vendors are caught with "bath salts" in Louisiana, they could face penalties equivalent to selling heroin, which is 30 years.
According to the Texas Department of Health, the problem is now being monitored within the state. In 2010, the state’s poison control center only received 21 calls about the product, most of them from the southeast portion of the state.