By Assemblyman Will Barclay
Late last year, I introduced legislation to ban synthetic drugs from our state after many local people were reportedly ending up in the emergency room as a result of synthetic drug use.
Many reported high blood pressure, high temperatures, severe paranoia and hallucinations. The media reported violent outbursts and instances where it took several people to restrain one person high on synthetics.
The State Department of Health issued a ban on the synthetic drugs from being sold, but the ban did not give police the tools they needed to punish the crime.
It became common to read about the abuse or influence these synthetics were having on our community. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration wrangled with how best to ban the drugs that kept labeling their products as non-edible and changing their chemical makeup to circumvent the law.
Finally, a federal law passed and recently became effective, which listed more drugs on the controlled substance list.
As a result, a collaborative local, state and federal law enforcement effort resulted in the recent synthetic drug raid known as Operation Log Jam on July 25.
Operation Log Jam was a coordinated effort between local, state and federal law enforcement officers who had collected evidence and raided local shops and sellers of synthetic drugs.
They coordinated the raids to occur at or around the same time on across the nation.
Police officers and undercover investigators collected evidence to raid the shops. Though this has not stopped synthetics altogether, it has sent a message that there will be consequences for those who sell and for those who use.
As it turned out, after the DEA released its map of all the places that were raided, Upstate New York had a high concentration of synthetic drug peddlers.
According to the DEA map which showed arrests made during Operation Log Jam, 14 of the 109 cities targeted were located in New York state. This was the highest concentration of raids in one state.
As a result, many of these businesses shut down; owners face federal drug charges which includes imprisonment and hefty fines.
This is an example of a grassroots effort that culminated in federal law change: the media drew attention to the problem we had locally; concerned parents and neighbors called my office to share stories and signed the online petition to voice support to rid our state of the dangerous and addictive chemicals; the legislation I introduced drew coverage from around the state, as more communities were experiencing increased reports synthetic drug use and looking for ways to stop it.
What started as a grassroots movement resulted in new state policy and federal law changes, and gave law enforcement the tools to make arrests.
I will continue to pay attention to this issue and to work on strengthening the state’s laws to better protect communities, especially our youth.
If you suspect drug activity, you may call 911 or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration at its field office in Syracuse at 315-426-5300 or (212) 337-3900 to make a report.
To learn more about prevention, and read stories of teenage drug use and how to recognize the signs, visit http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com
You may also contact Upstate Poison Control Center at http://www.upstate.edu/poison/ or call 1800-222-1222 to speak to a professional about the effects of synthetic drugs.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185. You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.