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Ivory Wave imitators starting to surface in Utah

Ivory Wave imitators starting to surface in Utah

By Andrew Adams | Posted - Nov. 16, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's the latest "legal" high to show up on store shelves in Utah, and now it appears there are homegrown versions of "Ivory Wave" surfacing as well.

Ivory Wave comes packaged as bath salt, but users snort the substance to get a cocaine-like high.

A quick web search reveals it also goes by the names, "Ivory Coast," "Purple Wave," and "Vanilla Sky."

Not on that list is "Stardust 801," though Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force officers say they found bath crystals with that label in a suspected Ogden drug user-dealer's home Nov. 2.

Sgt. Troy Burnett says the 27-year-old man who possessed it said he injected it, and it gave him a better high than cocaine. Investigators say the man also was in possession of cocaine and marijuana.

"We're constantly playing catch up with this," Burnett said. "We have no idea what's in this stuff."

The "Stardust 801" was sent to the lab for processing. Burnett says the user would not reveal where he got it.

It is a relatively new phenomenon in Utah. Burnett said the "Stardust 801" was the first Ivory Wave-type substance he had seen locally. He had only heard of Ivory Wave a month ago.

He is on the frontier of drug policing. Officers at other agencies KSL Newsradio contacted Tuesday had not heard of Ivory Wave.

"It's the same line as the spice. They're coming up with these synthetic highs, call them ‘legal highs.' They're not sold for human consumption but obviously that's what people are doing with it and it's a way to get around the law," Burnett said.

Burnett says it's possible these products may be more dangerous than their illegal counterparts because they haven't been studied.

"Marijuana, meth, cocaine and heroin, those drugs have been around for a long time and there have been plenty of studies about the adverse effects of these," Burnett said. "[Ivory Wave] is legally sold over the counter. Any child can buy this. It's a scary thought thinking about junior high kids using this stuff and having no idea about what it's going to do to them."

The import of Ivory Wave was banned in Great Britain earlier this month, after reports linked the product to several deaths, and Australia is also seeing a growing number of problems related to the substance.

Burnett says it may be difficult for cops and lawmakers to get ahead of the curve, unless common components are banned in over-the-counter products.

"I guess the problem is that science and the ability to create these things are advancing a lot quicker than law enforcement can react to its being sold as one thing and used as another," Burnett said. "I don't really see a point where we can catch up and get ahead in this game."

Unified police drug court supervisor, Sgt. Scott Van Wagoner, had not heard yet of "Stardust 801," but says he has seen another alternative to Ivory Wave available in stores, called "Energize." On the packaging in red letters, it says "compare to Ivory Wave."

Elsewhere on the packaging, Van Wagoner says there are warnings not to drive or use heavy machinery and a weight in milligrams, though the product is marketed as aromatherapy.

"Huge conflicting statements on the packaging. Obviously it's not aroma therapy, it's meant for human consumption," Van Wagoner said.

Van Wagoner says the users he has talked to describe the Ivory Wave high as a bad one, filled with "extreme discomfort" during the trip.

He purchased half a gram for $49.99, consistent with the street price of half a gram of cocaine or heroin. Van Wagoner believes Utah is just starting to see the growth of Ivory Wave use.

"I think there's the propensity for the market to be saturated as people learn of the product," Van Wagoner said.

Van Wagoner has been asked to testify on spice, the other well-publicized "legal" high, at a Health and Human Services Interim Committee hearing Wednesday at the Utah State Capitol. He says he will urge lawmakers for more controls.

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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