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Assembly members John F. McKeon and Linda Stender announced they plan to introduce legislation to crackdown on the dangerous practice of selling illegal drugs disguised as bath salts.

McKeon and Stender’s announcement followed a report in The Star Ledger of the alleged murder of a young Rutgers college student by her boyfriend who is suspected of overdosing on drugs concealed as bath salts.

The Ledger reported that twenty-two-year old William J. Parisio who withdrew from Rutgers this semester due to his drug problems is being held in a Union County jail in Elizabeth on charges of killing his long-time girlfriend 22-year-old Pamela Shmidt who was also a student at Rutgers. She is reported to have died of “traumatic injuries.”

Police discovered Shmidt’s body on Sunday in a basement room at the Parisio home on Greaves Place in Cranford.

According to the news report, Parisio’s mother Diane Parisio said he was descending into a world of paranoia he feared he might never escape and was unable to shake off the irrational worries that grew from his drug addiction.

“The recent tragedy is deadly proof of the devastation that can be caused when dangerous drugs are masqueraded as bath salts and are openly available to the public, especially our youth who are the highest users of such hallucigenic substances,” McKeon (D-Essex) said.

“Perpetrators who engage in such a blatant violation of the law must be dealt with severely. By punishing offenders with three to five years imprisonment, this measure would act as a strong deterrent to such illegal activities,” he added.

The measure McKeon and Stender plan to introduce would criminalize the possession and sale of products containing narcotic substances such as mephedrone or methylenedioxpyrovalerone, commonly known as MDPV that are being sold over the counter and are easily available at gas stations, convenience stores or head shops.

It would make it a crime of the third degree in New Jersey to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess products containing mephedrone or methylenedioxypyrovalerone. The offense would be punishable by a three to five year term of imprisonment, a $!5,000 fine or both.

“The terrible tragedy of the death of a young student increases the urgency of cleansing the marketplace of narcotic substances that are being disguised as bath salts. It is clear they can have a disastrous affect on the minds of the users,” Stender (D-Middlesex\Somerset\Union) said. “We are determined to move forward to get these dangerous products off the shelves and out of reach of our youth.”

Mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone or MDPV come in powder and tablet form and are ingested by snorting, injection, smoking, and less often, by the use of an atomizer. They create a “meth-like” high and can pack as much punch as cocaine or methamphetamines.

Some of the after affects of using these products, which are believed to be highly addictive, include high blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, delusions, and suicidal thoughts.

Users experience an intense high, extreme energy, hallucinations, insomnia and are easily provoked to anger, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which is currently investigating the drugs.

The drugs have reportedly become increasingly popular over the last year, particularly among young people attending nightclubs. They come branded with names like Ivory Wave, Ocean, Charge, White Lightning, Cloud-9, White Dove, Hurricane Charlie and Scarface.

According to the DEA, they range in price from $25 to $50 per 50 milligram packet.

In 2010, there were 233 reported calls to U.S. poison centers for the ingestion of the chemicals most commonly found in these products, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In the first ten days of 2011, that number had hit 69.

These products have emerged as legal alternatives to cocaine and methamphetamines, and one or both have already been banned in the European Union, Australia, Canada, and Israel.

In the United States, Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota have all recently banned the substances. Congressman Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation that would add bath salts to a list of federally controlled substances.