Abuse of so-called designer drugs, synthetic marijuana and bath salts has taken a big drop following a statewide ban in New Jersey.

Attorney General Jeff Chiesa announced that, according to data collected by the New Jersey Poison Information & Education System, and by the State Police Office of Forensic Science, reported incidents involving synthetic marijuana and so-called "bath salts" drugs have significantly declined since the state banned them.

"Before we took action to ban these dangerous drugs in New Jersey, they were sold as a so-called 'legal high' by shady retailers with no regard for their catastrophic side effects," Attorney General Chiesa said. "Today it is unambiguously clear that, here in New Jersey, synthetic marijuana and 'bath salts' are just as illegal as cocaine or heroin. Thankfully, the numbers demonstrate that our bans on these drugs are working."

Eric Kanefsky, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs, said, "We gave law enforcement the tools and support they needed to fight the distribution and manufacture of these drugs. As a result of these efforts, anyone pushing these toxic designer drugs now will be prosecuted in the same manner as those selling traditional street drugs."

Six months ago, on February 28, 2012, New Jersey became the fourth state to comprehensively ban all of the hundreds of possible variants of synthetic marijuana, by order of the Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. Since then, cases of individuals being exposed to synthetic marijuana, as reported to New Jersey's Poison Control hotline, have declined by 33 percent.

New Jersey banned "bath salts" drugs on April 27, 2011, also by order of the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. Since then, cases of individuals being exposed to "bath salts," as reported to New Jersey's Poison Control hotline, have declined by 66 percent.

"We are thrilled by these numbers and hope they decline even further. We will continue to prosecute people who sell these toxic chemicals because we know how dangerous they are, causing anxiety attacks, elevated heart rates, hallucinations" said Chiesa.