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      RI law sets penalties for synthetic drugs

      Anchor Recovery in Pawtucket is known for helping people leave addiction behind to blossom into the person they're meant to be.

      That's been the case for Vinny Florio. He's done countless drugs, including synthetic cocaine, also known as "bath salts."

      "I got arrested and then I was off it, and I didn't want to do it again because that was very scary," Florio said.

      Thanks to Anchor Recovery and other groups, he's been clean for more than four months.

      Florio volunteers at the agency as well as attends some of its support services programs.

      The group is glad legislators passed a bill, signed by Gov. Lincoln Chafee, to outlaw synthetic drugs like K2, spice and bath salts.

      Synthetic bath salts are made to look very much like traditional bath salts -- the kind used in a therapeutic bath -- but it's engineered to act like cocaine and sometimes it's even more dangerous.

      "It's like it reminded me of like cocaine times 10," Florio said.

      Before the new law you could buy the synthetic drugs legally at area convenience stores.

      The penalty for manufacturing, selling or possessing one ounce to a kilogram of a synthetic drug is now punishable by up to 50 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000.

      Florio said he hopes these new laws and his story will let people know synthetic drugs are just as bad as the real thing.