The City of Fulton is a final okay away from having its own law banning synthetic drugs after Tuesday night’s approval of the local law by the Fulton Common Council.
The local law bans a long list of chemical compounds that have been found in synthetic marijuana and in the class of drugs nicknamed bath salts. It also bans the use of embalming fluid by non-professionals. Some addicts dip their marijuana cigarettes in the fluid.
The lengthy list of banned compounds is intended to prevent drug chemists with coming up with new formulas that skirt more specific lists of illegal compounds.
“We had quite a problem with bath salts over the summer months,” said Mayor Ron Woodward. “We want to get the jump on them before they come up with something new.”
The law will become official when the office of New York’s Secretary of State gives its approval. The approval is expected within a few weeks.
Police officials have said that the synthetic drug problem in Fulton exploded early this year with the opening of the head shop 420 Emporium on East Broadway.
Days after a federal ban on synthetic drugs was enacted, federal agents teamed up with local police to raid shops across the country. The 420 Emporium chain, based in Rochester, was one target.
The Fulton store closed for the day after the raid and city officials used a codes inspection to force the store to stay closed. It has not reopened.
Fulton’s local law is based on the local law enacted by the city of Syracuse. It’s one of a host of local laws put in place to try to stamp out sales.
The state has gotten creative in fighting synthetic drugs while it waits for the State Legislature to enact a simple ban. The Health Department banned the sale of synthetic drugs under public health laws, but the process is lengthy and the penalties are very minor. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is prosecuting some head shop operators under product labeling laws, for selling drugs that are intentionally mislabeled as “window cleaner” or “bath salts”.
But the local law is the first that allows police to charge not only the seller, but the buyer, said Woodward. That’s useful because, with retail stores closed, synthetic drug buyers are buying their drugs over the internet.
Violating the local law is a misdemeanor, not a low-level violation as in the Health Department rule. A misdemeanor can land a person in jail for up to a year.
“We believe this is a great start,” said Council President Jay Foster.
“Hopefully, this will be the start towards cleaning up the mess all around us,” said Council member Larry Macner.