Oswego County Lawmakers Get Tougher On Synthetic Drugs

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting Thursday night, the Oswego County Legislature approved four local laws regarding synthetic  drugs.

The laws are:

Local Law #3 of 2012: A local law prohibiting the sale and possession of psychoactive bath salts, psychoactive herbal incense and synthetic hallucinogens within the county of Oswego.

Local Law #4 of 2012: A local law prohibiting the sale, distribution and use of drug and alcohol screening test adulterants and synthetic urine.

Local Law #5 of 2012: The Synthetic Drugs Public Nuisance Abatement Law.

Local Law #6 of 2012: A local law prohibiting the sale and possession of salvia divinorum within the county of Oswego.

Teresa Woolson
Teresa Woolson tells the legislature how these substances killed her son.

Prior to the legislature’s vote, a half dozen speakers presented opposing views on the subject.

Steve Olson, director of Oswego Hospital’s emergency department, urged the lawmakers to pass all four local laws.

Synthetic drugs are “a serious health issue,” he told the legislators. “I myself have seen firsthand the patients under the influence of these substances. Often times, you ask the patient what did they do and they say, ‘I am not really sure.'”

Teresa Woolson recalled how her son had gotten involved with these substances and it cost him his life.

“My son was struggling with synthetics for a very short time. In early August, he found out from a friend that these synthetics were still available” she said. “He walked into a store (in Oswego) and bought the stuff over the counter; two and a half hours before his body was pulled from Lake Ontario.”

Synthetics are poisons, she said, adding that they are “500 times more potent than street drugs.”

“We have a real crisis in our community and it is becoming an epidemic,” she warned.

Duane Crapser of Oswego said he has “had the pleasure of being thrown out of a local head shop downtown” because he went in to discuss their sale of pipes to minors.

He reached out to local enforcement “with no luck whatsoever.” The city of Oswego, the Oswego High School both turned a blind eye, he claimed.

“So now I am here for the county. I would like to see not only these drugs removed from the streets, but these places that selling these pipes need to go also. If you have to 18 years old to purchase these pipes, why don’t you need to be 18 to walk in the door? The pipes need to go, the stores need to go.”

Children have to walk through cigarette smoke to access county buildings, he said.

“We need to outlaw smoking on county property. If we’re going to start here, let’s go all the way. You want it to be a healthy county? Let’s make it a healthy county.”

These drugs destroyed her life, Sarah Gauger said. It was her brother who died in Lake Ontario after using them, she explained.

“He got what doctors said was ‘appropriate help.’ But no one could help him; because there are no answers. I did everything I possibly could have done to help him,” she added.

If the synthetic drugs were removed from store shelves, “then my brother wouldn’t have been able to walk into a store here in Oswego and purchase it. Had that been prevented by the ban, my brother would still be here today.”

The people working in the stores are just as responsible as the store owners, she continued.

“I cannot get my brother back. But, hopefully, we as a community, can save someone else’s,” she said.

Bonnie Caza asked the legislators to make the laws retro-active to Aug. 1 “so that the people that murdered my nephew can be punished.”

Wayne Johnson
Wayne Johnson places signs in front of the County Building prior to the legislature meeting Thursday night

Wayne Johnson said he has been “a responsible user of synthetic marijuana for over a year now.”

Many dangerous drugs are illegal. But can easily be found on street corners, he said.

“Marijuana was made illegal in 1950. Now, six decades later, we have proof that marijuana can prevent and cure cancer,” he told the legislature. “Cancer is caused by legal drugs such as cigarettes and alcohol. Yet even today they will not legalize marijuana simply because they do not know how to profit from it.”

Synthetic marijuana is used to control chronic pain and “should remain in stores where they can be regulated and not on the street corner where they can be mixed with who knows what,” he said.

They want to make synthetics illegal because they do not know the long-term effects, he said.

“Well, we do know the ling-term effects of both cigarettes and alcohol. They cause lung cancer, lung diseases, heart and liver disease. Yet, these products are still legal and under-age usage is on the rise. Alcohol is the most dangerous drug of all of them. Earlier this summer, we had four young men lose their lives in an alcohol-related accident up by the speedway (four were involved, but just three actually died). Every year, 300 New Yorkers lose their lives this way. Yet you sit there on your thumbs and you do nothing to support these families or make sure that it doesn’t happen to anyone in the future.”

By passing these laws it will make the county jail more over-crowded, which would mean more money being spent house prisoners in other facilities, he said pointing out the county has already spent close to $1 million on this problem.

“If you are so sure that the county residents want these products illegal, let them vote on it,” he urged the legislators. “But if you pass these laws, then be prepared, every liquor store and bar in the county should also be closed.”


  1. Keep these drugs in stores? Maybe if they were in a pharmacy available by prescription. But how many doctors are going to prescribe these? If you use these to control chronic pain like this guy likes to say, then go see a doctor and get a prescription for something that is APPROVED to treat your condition.
    I hope Wayne remembered to change that fancy sign to “I self medicate with illegal drugs. Arrest me first”

  2. First, pot does not cure cancer but it does kill cancer cells in the brain. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/cancer/articles/2009/04/01/active-ingredient-in-marijuana-kills-brain-cancer

    You make yourself look quite unintelligent. Why would Wayne make this sign? Because he doesn’t want to be a criminal! Our country is founded on “freedom”. This poor guy isn’t hurting anyone but himself by smoking synthetic marijuana. He WANTS to follow the law. The guy with the sign sure has a lot of courage to do this by himself.

  3. What was said that is “unintelligent”? If someone has a need for a drug to control chronic pain then go to a doctor. Self medication is not the answer. And keep it in the stores where it is regulated? Sure if by store you mean pharmacy, and by regulated you mean by prescription from a doctor. Those head shops really did a great job of regulating this stuff didn’t they? Why doesn’t he fight for the illegalization of tobacco? One of his excuses is how much worse that is. Make a sign for that. Guess the unintelligent thing I did is putting my name down. I should hide behind a phrase. Bottom line is they are studying this stuff. Just because something happened in a petri dish doesn’t mean it applies to humans. Just as the sites linked to say. Maybe some day they will prove many uses, until then go ahead and regulate it if it can be found safe. Just because other things are “worse” isn’t an excuse to keep something legal. That’s a whole other argument.

  4. Well, Todd, here is another link for you, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/19/marijuana-and-cancer_n_1898208.html.

    “Guess the unintelligent thing I did is putting my name down. I should hide behind a phrase.” Completely irrelevant.

    “If someone has a need for a drug to control chronic pain then go to a doctor. Self medication is not the answer.” Yes, he’ll go to the doctor and get an opiate-based painkiller. Which has the same mode of action as Herion and just as addicting. Just look at all the junkies addicted to painkillers. Why should the government tell him what medication he can and cannot take? If something works for him then let him use it, it will only hurt his own body.

  5. Sounds like doctors are seeing the drug habit through the “pain” excuse. Why not see a doctor? Because they stopped throwing prescriptions at you? A “responsible user” would seek medical advise, the medical community knows a bit more about these substances. All I am saying is let the professionals regulate these kind of drugs, don’t buy into the conspiracy theories of “the man” and do something responsible rather than beat a dead horse.

  6. I wish I would have read these comments before, but I did not even see this story until I was recently thanked for it. First, I would like to say that; I hope you do not believe that everything I said was put into print. Second, you are missing the MAIN point which is the cost that it will bring on the tax payer.

    As soon as these laws were passed, the next order of business was raising the budget for the sheriffs office. In 2012 the sheriffs department want more that 1 million dollars OVER their budget, and the legislature knew that making these four new laws, that they are going to be 1.5 million dollars over in the year of 2013. If you are not a tax payer than I guess I can understand way this is not important to you.

    To make it even worse the next order of business was to make sure that the D.A. would get his yearly raises for the next two years. Which will also be an added cost to the tax payer.

    Third, I have been under medical treatment for my chronic pain since 2003. I am on three different types of pain relievers daily which consist of Hydrocodone, Flexeral and Mobic. Which with all this medication I still feel pain. While using synthetic marijuana (not bath salt) I could go without any of these pills which can cause other side effects and health problems.

    Lastly, I would like to say that yes I do stand for civil rights and the Constitution. As a Veteran that proudly served my Country I will fight for my rights as laid out by my forefathers. I want my children, and their generations to be proud of this Country and have the freedoms to live their lives the way they feel is best for them.

    “For if a person is to afraid to voice their opinion for what they believe in, than they have already lost their freedom”.

Comments are closed.