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Oswego County Health Department Takes Action To Halt Sale and Distribution of Synthetic Marijuana

OSWEGO – The Oswego County Health Department today (March 29) began the process of notifying businesses that they are prohibited from selling, distributing or giving away synthetic marijuana products.

New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah issued the order banning the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid products March 28.

“The Oswego County Health Department is serving notice and orders today to businesses known to sell synthetic cannabinoids,” Oswego County Administrator Phil Church told Oswego County Today. “We will continue to notify businesses as they are identified.”

Synthetic marijuana products consist of plant material coated by chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

These products have been sold as a legal alternative to marijuana in “head shops,” convenience stores, and tobacco and smoke shops with brand names such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Mr. Nice Guy,” and “Galaxy Gold.”

Commissioner Shah ordered that sales and distribution of synthetic marijuana products cease immediately in New York State.

Local health officials were directed to distribute the commissioner’s order and check for compliance.

“It is certainly about time we step back and made financial gain secondary to the health of our children. Earning the almighty dollar, by selling stuff that’s killing our children, isn’t more important than the health of our children,” said Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd.

“We have seen a big upswing in the use of these products locally, and it is creating some big problems,” he continued. “You definitely need some type of law when the (synthetic) product is more dangerous than the real thing, and the real thing is already banned! It’s time to ban the product.”

The Oswego County Health Department is working with local law enforcement agencies to identify businesses in the county that may be likely to sell, distribute or give away synthetic marijuana.

To report an Oswego County business that is selling, distributing or giving away synthetic marijuana, call the Environmental Division of the Oswego County Health Department weekdays at 349-3557 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3557.

Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to severe adverse reactions, including death and acute renal failure.

According to the state Health Department, the products can cause tachycardia (increased heart rate), paranoid behavior, agitation and irritability, nausea and vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, headache, hypertension, electrolyte abnormalities, seizures, and syncope (loss of consciousness).

Last fall, the Oswego County Legislature adopted a formal resolution calling on the state and federal governments to ban the sale, distribution and possession of synthetic and unregulated drugs such as synthetic marijuana.

The resolution was endorsed by other counties in New York State and became part of the New York State Association of Counties’ official legislative platform for 2012.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called upon the Department of Health to take action to ban the sale and distribution of these dangerous products and the State Health Commissioner issued the order on March 28.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer strongly supports legislation that would ban these products nationwide.

“Governor Cuomo did the right thing enacting a state ban on this noxious product. We are working very hard to establish a federal ban so that kids seeking out these dangerous drugs can’t simply hop in a car and cross state borders to get a deadly high,” Schumer said. “We continue to press Senator Paul to release his ill-advised block on this legislation so that we can protect our kids, in New York and across the country.”