by Kyle Swenson
Bath salts — the head shop incense you're not supposed to put up your nose according to the label, common sense and medical sources everywhere but should you do so will induce a wild hallucinatory brain scramble complete with mental light shows, violent urges, foxhole flash backs, sexual mania, bouts of irrational nudity and other verifiable antisocial behavior — will be banned in October. An end of an era, this is — if you've been watching the headlines over the last year, you know Parma Blow (as bath salts have become known in certain media circles) is responsible for the wildest moments of reported news we've been lucky enough to aggregate for your work-day procrastinating pleasure. And you are welcome.
As we thumb through the vast door-stopper anthology of bath salt stories, one stands out: the April 25th robbery of Papa Smokes, a Mentor-on-the-Lake head shop.
Cutting at air with a knife blade, Paul Koehler walked into the store demanding cash and bath salts; he walked out with $1,350 in cash and $1,500 in the synthetic drug he'd developed a serious addiction to. His arrest, according to the News Herald, wasn't any less ignoble than the scope of his need: after a warrant was issued for his arrest, he was found by police in a factory stripped down to his undies; apparently he'd fallen into a nearby pond.
On Tuesday, Koehler was sentenced by Lake County Common Plea Judge Joe Gibson to a three-year stretch in jail. The bench seemed to find Koehler genuinely sorry for his crimes, and said early release wasn't out of the question if the defendant kept his nose clean. To bath salts, the judge was less charitable. Although the store took bath salts off their shelves following the robbery, they requested the judge force the defendant to reimburse the value of the stolen product. Gibson refused, although Koehler will be required to pay back the stolen cash. The judge ordered the bath salts destroyed, and using the defendant's situation as a case-in-point, delivered a PSA from the bench. The homily ran such:
“Why did you do this? What is it that changed Paul Koehler into a drug user into an armed robber? The only wild card I can think of is bath salts,” Gibson said. “This legal substance is creating as many problems as the illegal substances are. They create a monster. That’s what walked into that store that night with a knife. I wish they could put a video of that night in every store that sells bath salts. There you are, walking around in just your shorts, totally disoriented, with no idea how you got there.”