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State Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, and Police Chief Larry Crenshaw announced Monday a collaborative effort to curb the use and retail sales of illegal bath salts.

In March the state enacted Public Law 78, co-authored by Austin, which bans the sale of the stimulant.

Crenshaw said bath salt use in the city is a "growing trend," especially among teens and young adults. "I appreciate the legislation and that it has teeth to hold vendors accountable."

Under the law, any retailer caught selling the drug could have its retail certificate suspended for one year. Crenshaw said all Anderson police officers will undergo training to identify bath salts and their side effects.

He said retailers, under an amnesty clause, can surrender the drug to police without fear of being charged. However, the department will conduct undercover operations to discover which retailers are continuing to sell bath salts.

Last year, Austin said, the drug was responsible for 30 deaths in Indiana. "I want to make Anderson a safer place for young people."

Also included in the law is a provision allowing the Indiana Pharmacy Board to outlaw similar stimulants as they hit the open market, rather than wait for a ban to come through the General Assembly. Austin anticipates that some retailers will ignore the new law initially.

"I think after a handful of instances where retailers are charged and we shut down their business for a year, it will sink in," she said.

Steve Richardson, program administer of the Madison County Coalition Against Substance Abuse, attended the press conference and said it's important that parents are aware of bath salts. He advised to look for sudden changes in children's behavior.

"They're stimulants, so you don't know how they're going to affect someone," Richardson said.

Often, he said, the drug can cause paranoia, which can lead to users harming themselves, or even suicide.

He agreed with Crenshaw's view that young people are at greater risk of using stimulants.

"Our goal is not just to get the drug out of their hands, but to discourage them from succumbing to peer pressure," Richardson said.

Bill Watson, Board of Public Safety member and associate pastor at the Church Upon the Rock, said he has tried to encourage young people to make good decisions and to value themselves.

"I try to teach them that being pressured to do drugs is an assault against their person," Watson said.