The law came too late for two Warren County men. It came too late for a 13-year-old Pittsburgh boy.
The Pittsburgh lad, who died this week, was the latest - we pray, the last - to die after smoking artificial marijuana from a plastic candy dispenser earlier this year. The two men died after consuming a substance commonly referred to as "bath salts" last winter when they wandered off into the Allegheny National Forest and froze.
Stories like these are tragic; the events, senseless.
And while a law that went into effect earlier this year banning both substances may be saving some lives, it will not prevent the invention of new substances to take their place.
Whenever there is money to be made on the urge of people to escape reality through substance abuse, there will be people willing to break out the chemistry set to find a way to make it.
The problem comes in the time lag between the discovery of these substances, the realization of their dangers, and the legislation necessary to take them off the street. In the interim people are harmed; some people die.
These substances are no longer sold in convenience stores and head shops, and that's a help, but it doesn't attack the root of the problem: The market for mind-altering drugs will always find willing entreprenuers.
That's a much more difficult problem, and not one easily tackled by lawmakers.