Synthetic Drugs Continue to Plague New York State

A legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
Over the past three months, The New York Times has covered stories on the local impact of synthetic drug use.

In July, they published a story on the synthetic drug problem that has been growing in the Syracuse region.

This week, due to the growing epidemic of synthetic drug use in New York City, they reported on the dramatic spike in the use of K2, synthetic marijuana, in Harlem and in other parts of New York City.

In one media report, it was said that the streets looked like a scene from the Walking Dead, where users looked like walking zombies.

K2, which is banned by the New York State Department of Health, is one of the several synthetic drugs that are plaguing New York City, Central New York and other parts of the state.

Because the Department of Health’s ban does not go far enough to penalize selling synthetic drugs, it has left local communities grappling with increased synthetic drug use and health and safety issues.

I have long advocated for criminalizing the sale of synthetic drugs and have introduced legislation to that effect.

Outlawing synthetic drugs has been a challenge because New York and the Federal Government outlaw drugs based on their chemical compounds.

Because they are synthetics, manufacturers have been able to slightly change their chemical composition so they are no longer on the state’s controlled-substance list, and therefore, no longer illegal.

In addition, synthetic drugs are often mislabeled and sold as products other than drugs (i.e., bath salts, shoe deodorant and incense.)

However, the seller and the purchaser realize that the intended use of the synthetic drug is to provide a high for the user.

My legislation addresses mislabeling, chemical swapping, and creates penalties for possessing and selling synthetic drugs equivalent to their “street drug” counterpart.

The bill contains two key provisions: (i) broader power is given to the Commissioner of Health to add synthetic drugs and their chemical compounds to the controlled-substance list, rather than having the legislature act to add to the controlled-substance list; and (ii) stores will be penalized for selling mislabeled products when they are clearly intended to be used as drugs.

Senator Patty Ritchie is the prime sponsor of this legislation in the State Senate.

For reasons unknown, Assembly Democrats in the State Assembly have continually blocked my legislation from getting to the floor of the Assembly for a vote.

It is time for the Assembly Democrats to recognize the dangers of synthetic drugs, take action and stop blocking legislation that will protect not only the citizens of the NYC but all citizens of New York state from the evils of these 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.

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