Choose education over blind banning
In the wake of the tragic murder of School of Arts and Sciences senior Pamela Schmidt, N.J. legislators have been pushing for a bill which would ban "bath salts" in the state. William Parisio, a former School or Arts and Sciences junior who allegedly killed Schmidt, was using bath salts in the months before the murder, hence the connection between the bill and homicide. We wonder, however, if it is really proper to blame the bath salts for the murder. It would be akin to blaming alcohol for drunk driving, or an exam for a failing grade. In these situations, we cannot forget that, ultimately, the people involved are the ones responsible for what happens. Perhaps banning these bath salts is not the best course of action. Instead, it is education.
Let's face the facts: People will use whatever they can to get high. It's sad, but it is true. Some people sniff glue or huff magic markers. Should we ban these things, then? Of course not. Instead, we take steps to educate people about the dangers of engaging in these sorts of activities. That does not stop everyone from abusing these substances, but neither does making them illegal. Even if bath salts are outlawed, chances are people will still find ways to get their hands on them, or merely replace them with some new legal high.
Before we can determine whether or not bath salts should be outlawed, we need to discern why they were manufactured in the first place. Was this substance legitimately made with the intention of providing aromatherapy, or was it made as a way to sneak drugs into the market? In this case, intentionality truly matters. It would be unfair to the makers of the product to ban bath salts solely because people started to abuse them. Again, it would be like banning glue because people have decided to sniff it.
Education is always a better recourse than banning. When people are informed about the incredibly negative effects of misusing substances like bath salts, they are more likely to stay away. When the product is merely removed from the shelf, people will just find another way to get their hands on it — or they'll replace it with something else that's still legal, but just as dangerous.