NYLON — The New York State Senate has approved a series of bills to combat the sale of K2 and other drugs that contain synthetic cannabis.
According to press releases from Senators Patrick M. Gallivan and Catherine Young, the legislative action was prompted by a new report that showed the effects of synthetic cannabinoid use on public health services cost taxpayers $22.7 million in 2015. The bills now go to the NYS Assembly for approval.
“The use of heroin and other synthetic cannabinoids is a public health crisis,” said Gallivan. “No community is immune from the devastating impact of these drugs, which have destroyed too many lives. We must hold those who manufacture and distribute these drugs responsible for their deadly actions.”
Young added that though many cannabinoids are legal, they are causing a statewide health crisis.
“Drug dealers have been using synthetic drugs to stay a step ahead of the law,” said Young. “Our children should not have access to these potentially deadly drugs and this legislative package will help ensure that these drugs, and those who peddle them, are taken off our streets. We need to continue to fight against this growing public-health crisis, and this should only be our first step.”
Law S.2836C adds the current list of known synthetic cannabinoids to the Schedule I list and creates criminal penalties for possession and sale.
Law S.4743 adds Alpha-PVP, known as ‘flakka’ or ‘gravel,’ to the public health law Schedule I of controlled substances.
Law S.1640A amends the Controlled Substances Act to add to the Schedule any analogous drugs.
Law S.6040A imposes civil penalties on businesses that sell synthetic cannabinoids. On the third violation, a business would lose its state licenses to sell lottery tickets, alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products for five years.
Law S.6496 requires the Department of Health to maintain an electronic database of known synthetic cannabinoids, listing their compounds, a description of products and their street names.
Gallivan’s press release said that statewide, over 6,800 people were hospitalized as a result of using K2 and 68 percent of those patients used Medicaid, resulting in over $1.1 million in payouts. Millions have been shelled out on new lab testing, hospital equipment, treatment and medication. A combined $3 million in city and state dollars were spent on public awareness campaigns.
Synthetic cannabinoid use also resulted in injuries of emergency medical technicians. On nine separate occasions, inmates using synthetic cannabinoids punched, kicked, and bit corrections officers resulting in injuries.
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