WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 15: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) speaks to the media after a meeting with Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari on Capitol Hill October 15, 2008 in Washington, DC. Schumer met with Kashkari to discuss the economy and the financial crisis. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the federal government to ban new designer drugs known as bath salts that are legal in many states even though they pack as much punch as cocaine or methamphetamines.
The small, inexpensive packets of powder are meant to be snorted for a hallucination-inducing high, but they are often marketed with a wink on the Internet or in convenience stores as bathing salts or plant food.
A handful of states have already banned the active ingredients in the powders, mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV.
The Democratic senator is announcing a bill Sunday that would add those chemicals to the list of federally controlled substances.
Some experts say the drugs can cause hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart rates and suicidal thoughts.
``These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country,'' Schumer said.
``The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in,''he said.
Poison control centers in several states have reported a surge in reports of bad reactions to the drugs.
Some of the packets cost as little as $20.