May 23, 2012

Assembly Passes Bill to Criminalize the Sale and
Possession of Synthetic Marijuana in New York State

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the passage of legislation (A.9855-A/ Zebrowski) that would criminalize the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana in New York State.

"In New York State, we have already taken a proactive approach and have banned the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana," said Silver. "However, we must take additional action to get these substances out of our communities completely and out of the reach of our youth. This bill goes a step further by criminalizing the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana to ensure people across the state do not suffer the proven, serious side effects of its use."

The bill includes provisions that would add several chemical compounds used to manufacture synthetic marijuana to the schedule of controlled substances, making the sale and possession punishable by imprisonment, a fine, or both. Synthetic marijuana is a chemical substance with structural features and effects similar to those in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main compound found in marijuana.

"These are dangerous chemicals, and they actually have nothing to do with marijuana," said Gottfried. "These chemicals have been linked to serious adverse reactions, including death and acute renal failure."

"Drug abuse is a pervasive problem in many of our communities across the state," said Lentol. "The legal availability of synthetic marijuana only aggravates that problem. Today, through the approval of this bill, we are protecting New Yorkers, particularly our young people, from its harmful effects."

"The widespread use of synthetic marijuana is putting the health and safety of all New Yorkers, in particular our youth, in jeopardy," said Zebrowski. "The documented side effects of its use have made it clear that it has no place in our communities. This bill will help to protect New Yorkers from this drug by criminalizing its sale and possession."