ORONO, Maine — Students in the University of Maine’s Androscoggin Hall smelled burning marijuana Friday night and called campus police, who found a Freeport man in possession of “separate, individual, clear plastic bags” of the synthetic drug bath salts, university spokeswoman Margaret Nagel said Tuesday.
“This is the first bath salts-related arrest at the University of Maine,” she said.
“This is the first indication that we’ve had that this very dangerous drug has made its way onto campus, and it was a nonstudent,” Robert Dana, vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said Tuesday.
Cole Cassidy, 18, was arrested around 9 p.m. Friday and charged with unlawful trafficking in hallucinogenic drugs — a crime that could put him behind prison bars for up to 10 years — as well as possession of marijuana and violating his bail conditions.
A male UMaine student in the same room with Cassidy was found in possession of marijuana and was referred to judicial affairs, Nagel said. Because he was not charged with a crime, his name was not released.
Campus officials said they have been monitoring Bangor’s battle with bath salts, a lab-made drug that arrived in the area in early 2011, and the university’s Alcohol and Drug Prevention Programs have spearheaded student education and prevention efforts.
The drug is called “monkey dust” in Bangor and “Rave-on” in Rockland and continues to be something police in those cities deal with on a daily basis, officers in those communities said recently.
Students are aware of the dangers of the synthetic drug, which when ingested, injected or smoked has caused agitation, hallucinations, paranoia and even psychotic episodes in users, Dana said.
“They are not going to put their lives in harm’s way or let their friends and colleagues be put in harm’s way,” he said. “This is their home and they are not going to let it be blighted.”
He added, “I’m very proud of our students for turning him in.”
Cassidy, Dana believes, brought the bath salts to campus to sell them to students.
“I think that he had a feeling that this would be a place where he could sell drugs,” he said.
The Freeport man learned the hard way that his thinking was wrong, Dana said.
“There is no place for it in the culture at large and certainly no place on a college campus,” he said.
The university has a zero-tolerance drug policy, Dana said.
“If a student is caught with bath salts they would be immediately suspended from the University of Maine,” he said. “There is no room on a college campus for illicit drugs.”
Cassidy was taken to Penobscot County Jail in Bangor after his arrest and remained in custody on Tuesday afternoon, a jail official said.