March 25, 2019 | 44° F

Governor bans bath salts after student's death

Gov. Chris Christie signed "Pamela's Law" into legislation last week, which will ban the sale, possession and use of bath salts, a synthetic drug that affects users in a similar way to methamphetamines, in New Jersey.

The law is named after Pamela Schmidt, a University student who was murdered in March. Authorities believe her boyfriend William Parisio Jr., who was under the influence of bath salts at the time of her murder, to be the suspect.

The law places six chemicals commonly found in the bath salts under the category of Schedule I Controlled Dangerous Substances (CDS). The chemicals were available for sale in convenience stores and smoke shops as late as April of this year.

While not every package of bath salts contains all of these substances — synthetic derivatives of the federal Schedule I CDS cathinone — they were found at least to have one of the chemicals.

"This action, coupled with our efforts statewide to raise awareness of the danger of these and other drugs, will give law enforcement the tools they need to properly address the proliferation of these drugs and help us to ensure that senseless additional damage is not caused to families in our state," Christie said in a statement.

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), who sponsored the bill to outlaw bath salts since March, was happy to see Christie sign Pamela's Law.

"I applaud the governor for signing the law — it is common sense legislation to criminalize a substance that has very serious effects on people who use them," she said. "We've seen sadly, firsthand in the death of Pamela, what happens when somebody uses these else."

Schmidt was two months away from graduating from the School of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor's degree in psychology, and planned to attend the School of Management and Labor Relations for her master's degree in human resources before she died, said Werner Schmidt Jr., Pamela's father.

"We were so proud of her. I always told her she was really going to be something," he said. "I saw so much potential and great things for her in her future, [but] the way it was taken away doesn't make any sense. Hopefully the law will prevent other families from [experiencing] the difficulty we wholeheartedly."

To this day, the reality of his daughter's death still feels out of reach for Werner Schmidt Jr. and his wife.

"Six months later, and it feels unbelievable," he said. "How could something like that happen? But we feel blessed to have the law and the scholarship to remember her

Amy Rowe

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