OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Monday night, the Common Council will consider a resolution to join forces with the county in opposing the manufacture and sale of synthetic drugs, such as Happy Shaman.
Last week, a county legislator urged the Common Council to approve a resolution similar to what the county recently passed.
“This is a resolution that was addressed by the county and we are being urged as the city council to do the same,” Councilor Connie Cosemento, chair of the Physical Services Committee, explained.
“Legislator Jake Mulcahey contacted me over the weekend and we decided that is was a good idea. Since the county already passed this resolution, we would just mirror theirs and urge our state representatives to pass the appropriate laws (to curb the spread of these substances),” said Mayor Randy Bateman. “It seems to be an issue in our community for sure as well as the whole county and rest of the state.”
Happy Shaman is a product that is marketed as an herbal incense blend.
Opponents say it is a type of synthetic marijuana; known on the street as “legal weed.” Many people aren’t using it as incense and are instead inhaling it using drug paraphernalia smoking it in cigarette form, they added.
“The sticky parts are with the wording, as these things are constantly evolving and changing,” Mulcahey told the councilors. “So, what we did was pass our resolution through Health and Human Services and move it to the full legislature, which passed it unanimously to move on to state and federal government.”
If the product is deemed illegal in one form, the manufacturers change the formula and remove the suspect compounds thereby making the product legal again.
There has been a large public response (against Happy Shaman), “far more than usual, Mulcahey said.
The county’s Health and Human Services Committee recently unanimously passed a resolution asking the state and federal government to ban or better regulate the sale of the substances in question, Mulcahey told the city councilors.
According to the county’s resolution: “Hospitals, health agencies and poison control centers are experiencing increased emergency room cases, illnesses, deaths and reports linked to the use and abuse of these substances by children and adults.
“Law enforcement agencies and courts are seeing increased crime in our local communities associated with the sale and abuse of these substances.
“Manufacturers and retailers of these substances often directly market them to children and teenagers through the Internet and by colorful, youthful packaging designs that include no warnings or adequate description of the ingredients and are deceptively sold as incense or aroma products.”
It urges federal drug enforcement, health, justice and commerce agencies and elected officials to “recognize the urgency of this matter and adopt effective regulations or bans on the manufacture, sale and possession of these substances and their future derivatives or successors by anyone in New York State.”
The resolution concludes by urging the NYS Legislature and governor to immediately pass meaningful and effective legislation criminalizing the manufacture, sale and possession of these substances and their future derivatives or successors by anyone in New York State.
For more information, Mulcahey suggested contacting Farnham.
Established in 1971, Farnham Family Services offers prevention services, school-based Student Assistance and treatment services to all residents of Oswego and surrounding counties. Anyone interested in learning more about Farnham can call 342-4489 or visit www.farnhaminc.org
At the county meeting, health officials said it isn’t fair to compare these products to alcohol. Alcohol is what it is, they said, whereas these products are being marketed as one thing but used as something else.
“Alcohol is labeled as alcohol and it is regulated,” according to County Administrator Phil Church. “Whereas, these other substances, sold as incense or stimulants, were mislabeled as bath salts. So a vast difference exists. Alcohol is identified as what it is. And, people know what it is. These substances are sold under labels that don’t clearly say what they are, ingredients aren’t clear, completely unregulated.”
Sales of alcohol are restricted to people of a certain age, added Health Committee chair Jack Proud.
“These drugs are intended toward youth; there is no regulation on this. It is necessary for us to begin to establish regulation,” he said.