Containers of bath salts, a synthetic cocaine, sit on a counter at in Mechanicsburg, Pa. (Associated Press photo)

Gov. Deval Patrick signed a prescription drug regulation bill Monday that includes a ban on a narcotic-like substance nicknamed bath salts.

The bath salt ban was authored by state Rep. George Ross, R-Attleboro, who took up the cause after hearing about the damage smoking bath salts was having on addicted constituents.

"The bill is done and it becomes law now," Ross said. "I'm really happy because it is a tool for law enforcement."

Ross said he believes the ban will save lives and families.

The so-called bath salts are not a product people put into their tubs with hot water. They are a chemical substance sold over the counter that some young people smoke to get high.

They have a narcotic effect similar to crystal methamphetamine, and can be harmful to an abuser's physical and psychological health.

The larger prescription drug bill would further regulate the distribution of powerful drugs so abusers cannot go "doctor shopping" and get prescriptions for non-medical reasons.

Ross had originally filed the bath salt ban as a stand-alone bill, but it was later attached to another drug bill and then the prescription drug bill. That bill passed the House at the very end of the Legislature's 2011-2012 session on July 31.

A potential foe in November's election criticized Ross because Ross was uncertain of the status of the measure as the session came to a close.

JIM HAND covers politics for The Sun Chronicle. He can be reached at 508-236-0399 or at

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