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cazzie's avatar

What would you do? A small moral dilemma.

Asked by cazzie (24516points) July 1st, 2012

As most of you may know, I have a small business making soap and bath products. I had a strange phone call yesterday. The man wanted ‘bath salts’ with a particular ingredient. He gave me the ingredient name and I quickly worked out that what he waned was the street drug named ‘bath salts’ not any legal bath product that I make. Should I talk to the police about this?

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33 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I would keep it to myself. Not being a snitch and all.

mattbrowne's avatar

Well, do you have the impression that he was a drug dealer or a drug user? To me the morality is different. I don’t believe in punishing drug users. They need the help of doctors. But I have a problem with drug dealers leading innocent teenagers to become addicted. Often they are told that the ingredient is harmless like a high-energy red bull drink, which is a lie. That’s immoral and the police should arrest the dealers. Is it possible to make an anonymous report to the police? Drug dealers can be extremely dangerous, so it depends on how witnesses are being handled by the police.

blueiiznh's avatar

Simply say no and let it go.
The last thing you want is to have someone in that side life messing with you, your home, your business and your life.

cazzie's avatar

I am pretty sure this guy was a user. At first, when he was asking about what type of bath salts I sold, he sounded like an elderly gent, but then, after speaking with him for a while, he knew the exact chemical he was after, its common name and chemical make up, but he wanted the finished ‘bath salts’ like he really thought that there was a brand or make of bath product that could get him high. It was so strange.

He sent me an email and I posted one back with sort of a ‘um, no, what you are after is actually illegal and I am not THAT type of chemist like the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’, so I am sure he understands he made a mistake or perhaps he will just try other soapmakers here, and they will turn him in, who knows. How wasted must his brain be to think he could get a controlled narcotic drug from a soap makers bath salt?

marinelife's avatar

I would report his name and phone number to the police. Why is it a moral dilemma to report an illegal drug user?

cazzie's avatar

@marinelife He was only asking for the stuff and how stupid would you have to be to call a soapmaker? I don’t know if he is a drug user. He IS, however guilty of trying to solicit drugs, which, I have NO idea if that is even a crime here. I don’t even know if this particular drug is on their controlled substance list here in Norway, so I don’t want to waste police time. If this guy is really this stupid and a drug user, chances are they know this guy. It is a smallish city.

bkcunningham's avatar

I have a feeling your business is being “checked out” to make sure you aren’t the dealer, @cazzie.

Bill1939's avatar

I think you handled this appropriately. I do not think that the police could act on this information if you provided it—the question of ‘free speech’ may apply. Have you considered that this was a sting operation and had you responded in the affirmative that you would have been arrested after you produced the requested substance?

mattbrowne's avatar

@bkcunningham got an excellent point. It’s one possibility.

mattbrowne's avatar

@marinelife – It’s a moral dilemma if one believes that drug users need a doctor instead of a prison warden. As long as there is no legal obligation to report a drug user I wouldn’t do it.

Blackberry's avatar

I wouldn’t talk to the police, and I would decline his offer.

cazzie's avatar

If the police here think I would be clever enough to make meth or some such thing in my basement, I would be flattered but alarmed, but I am pretty sure that is not the case.

You need to remember that I don’t live in the USA. I am in Norway. Maybe I should call a lawyer? If this guys finds this drug and somehow me telling him it doesn’t come from actual ‘bathsalts’ I may have made myself an accessory? I also told him it was a control substance and illegal here (which I am not completely sure of, but it should be illegal, if it isn’t yet.)

This is the drug that those crazy people take where they eat people’s faces or that guy that ate that little dog! How horrendous is THAT!

bkcunningham's avatar

You actually conversed back and forth via email with this person describing ingredients and the process of illegal bathsalts?

Blackberry's avatar

@cazzie I should point out that bathsalts don’t make people eat faces. Just like how marijuana doesn’t make people turn into dirty hippies. But I see your point.

mattbrowne's avatar

The drug problem with the “bath salt” label is a challenge, because almost every other month there’s a new designer drug which isn’t listed as an illegal drug yet. This makes it so appealing to drug producers and drug dealers. A tiny molecular change and it’s legal again (for a while). Here’s a good overview

It’s a huge problem especially in Eastern Europe. Some months ago I watched a documentation about drugs in Poland labeled as bath salts.

Aethelflaed's avatar

If you know the chemicals, you should report it. Because what constitutes “bath salts” is really changing so quickly, it’s very hard for authorities to keep up with. (NPR has a good article on them, though it’s US-focused). You almost definitely didn’t make yourself an accessory by telling him bath salts don’t come from actual bath salts (which he almost definitely already knew), because otherwise, NPR just made itself a giant accessory. But maybe think of it as not so much reporting this one guy, as reporting what a new bath salts formulation will look like.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Just so that everyone is clear: Bath salts, in this context, are the street name of a new drug/s, and are in no way related to those crystals you put in your bath. They are made in a lab, are made with chemicals anyone can pick up at the store (and what those chemicals are constantly change), and it actually makes quite a bit of sense that a soapmaker would not only have the materials and equipment to make them, but also might want to supplement their income by supplying them, especially since they are called “bath salts” and can be pretty easily disguised as a legitimate business transaction.

CWOTUS's avatar

I learn something new here almost every day.

No, I wouldn’t say a word about this beyond what you’ve already done.

If he’s a user, then he’s already in a world of hurt. If he’s a dealer, then it’s very likely that he has a lot of violent protection around him – if not the cops themselves, since drug money can be so corrupting – and there’s little that you can do to hurt him, and a lot that he can do to hurt you.

Let it go, and sleep well.

ucme's avatar

That guy in Florida who ate the hobo’s face, he was allegedly on “bath salts”, i’d tell him to “bite me”, such irony.

cazzie's avatar

@Aethelflaed I think you overestimate the availability of chemicals here in Europe. I can’t even get lye in amounts bigger than 1kg at a time unless I register my company with a chemical distributer, who reports all their purchases to government authorities for audit.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@cazzie the one thing I would worry about if you don’t turn him in is your phone number is now in his records. If you don’t turn him in and the cops are tracking him it could be a problem for you.

In your position, I would definately talk to a lawyer about this to see what your legal responsibility is before I did anything else.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think I’d feel obligated to report it. I wouldn’t like the idea of some drug user’s phone number showing up on my phone statements, on the off change that something might happen. Or that man could have actually been someone of authority trying to test you. Meh, I don’t know.

wundayatta's avatar

You can report it, but I bet the police will not do anything with it. They might take down the name and phone number and put it in a file, just in case they get more information about the same guy in the future.

But I doubt anything will come of it. As far as I know, it’s not illegal to discuss chemical formulas and to inquire into the possibility that someone could make a particular formula. The cops would only be interested if they were already onto the guy, I would think. And if they are already interested, they may already know about your conversation.

Ponderer983's avatar

Have you reported every person who has ever offered you drugs or you’ve seen doing drugs before? Or underage drinking? If no, then why do it now.

cazzie's avatar

No one ever contacted me over the phone or by email before in relation to what I do for a living, @Ponderer983… with the potential to threaten my business by doing so.

flutherother's avatar

It sounds like a hoax call to me from someone trying to wind you up. I would forget it unless he starts becoming a nuisance.

cazzie's avatar

@flutherother Well, I now have had three emails from him, but he seems to have dropped it after I convinced him I was defiantly a dead end.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Print hard copies of all your correspondence and keep it just in case.

bkcunningham's avatar

Good answer, @WestRiverrat. I agree 100 percent. Print copies of the emails just in case.

Ponderer983's avatar

@cazzie As you stated in your details, he did not threaten you or your business in any way. He simply asked you a question, and all you had to do is say I’m sorry I cant’ help you. So I would do as many others have said, keep the correspondence just in case, but I wouldn’t go to the police. If he persists, or makes some kind of threat, then report him.

Berserker's avatar

Leave it as. There isn’t much the police can do against someone looking for drugs, if anything at all. They’re a lot more interested in the dealers :/ I doubt that guy’s a dealer, I’m pretty sure you don’t become a drug dealer by phoning random places asking if they got stock they can buy and sell back.

cazzie's avatar

@Ponderer983 I said potential to cause harm to my business. You can not argue that this can’t blow up in my face in some way. You mention the possibility for him to persist or make threats, I call that potential to cause some harm.

LittleLemon's avatar

I apologize for not reading all of the comments, but based on what this new street drug does to people, I would most definitely contact the police with his whereabouts. Whether or not it does any good, at least you can feel better about trying.

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