San Clemente Closes Tobacco & Accessories Shop for Sales of “Spice” and “Bath Salts”

The city of San Clemente has shut down a smoke shop where the Orange County Sheriff's Department claims it seized 106 grams of the stimulant known as “bath salts” and more than 2½
pounds of the compound “spice” that produces a pot-like high.

The business license was yanked for Tobacco & Accessories,  2727 Via Cascadita, according to city officials.

The store was raided by sheriff's deputies six weeks ago, after undercover officers acting on a tip bought bath salts there. A warranted search produced the spice and more bath salts, according to sheriff's officials.

Bath salts, which in this instance do not refer to the soothing bathing crystals, have sparked public alarm following recent reports around the country of users suffering LSD-like hallucinations. A Miami guy on bath salts was reportedly turned into a flesh-eating zombie.

The stimulants are called bath salts or “plant food” because that's what the crystals resemble. Some packets sold at retail shops have been found to contain caffeine and anesthetics, while others are a more dangerous mixture of drugs that are generically called cathinones and are similar to MDPV and mephedrone.

The federal government in March 2011 declared a one-year ban on bath salts and substances like spice that create marijuana-like highs. After the law expired this year, the U.S. Senate on May 24 passed a bill that would ban spice and bath salts. Tobacco & Accessories was raided five days later.

Shop owner Eiad Diab, 38, was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor unlawful sale of synthetic stimulants
and misdemeanor unlawful sale of synthetic cannabinoid substances.

Diab reportedly told the Orange County Register he thought the substances were for cleaning pipes, that the packaging mentioned something about making bubbles and that some customers told
him they used the salts in baths to invigorate their skin.

Now it's his business that's taking a bath.

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Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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