We are in the midst of a widespread public-health crisis created by the availability of synthetic marijuana that is sold over the counters by retailers across the nation. Consumers – many of them children – have been purchasing these materials and smoking them in the same manner someone smokes illegal marijuana. Many people are being poisoned by these extraordinarily dangerous chemicals, which are sold under brand names such as K2, K4 White Widow, Black Mamba, Spice, Purple Haze, Zombie Matter and Orange Krunck to name just a few. According to Assemblywoman Clark, “children may think they are using a safe undetectable form of marijuana but no one knows the complexities and hazards of these drugs, which may have long protracted health complications”.
These dangerous chemicals can produce seizures, hallucinations, tremors, paranoia, convulsions, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate when smoked. Professor John H. Huffman, who developed and tested these chemicals on brain receptors in rats, has stated publicly: “These things are dangerous. Anybody who uses them is playing Russian Roulette. It’s insane. We never intended them for human consumption.” During the first nine months of 2011, Fifty-seven poison control centers across the nation received 5,083 calls regarding synthetic marijuana.
As of March 1, 2011 The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has temporarily made possessing and selling synthetic marijuana or the products that contain them illegal in the United States; this ban is not yet permanent. This temporary scheduling action will remain in effect for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled. According to Assemblywoman Clark, “I applaud the first steps taken by the federal government, recognizing that these substances are dangerous gateway drugs that potentially expand drug use. I would encourage the DEA in consultation with DHHS to permanently ban the harmful drugs.”
At its general meeting, Monday January 23, 2012, Queens Community Board 13 approved a resolution by a vote of 29 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstaining, urging state policy makers to ban synthetic marijuana products that are being marketed as incense. This resolution compliments legislation introduced in the New York State Assembly (A8568-A), that “Prohibits the sale of salvia divinorum to persons under 18 years of age in New York”. “The state legislation is necessary so we may stop the perilous abuse of so-called “fake weed” before it becomes an epidemic in our State”, said Assemblywoman Clark. “I would urge my colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to act swiftly in passing this important legislation.” As suggested by Queens Community Board 13, the New York City Council should consider holding Public Hearings to determine if these products should be ordered off the shelves, “I would also implore the Governor to sign the legislation with haste upon its passage in the state legislature” said Clark.
According to Assembly woman Clark, “Our children are too important to our community and our future to allow these dangerous substances to destroy their lives”. Both the state and federal government have come to realize the real effects of synthetic marijuana and we need to continue fighting to rid our local stores of all these types of products permanently. “I will continue to push for a statewide law restricting the sale of synthetic marijuana to make sure that our community and children are protected in the event that the federal ban is removed” said Assemblywoman Clark.