Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I – Corning) today helped pass legislation that will ban synthetic cannabinoids, a dangerous drug that has emerged to pose a serious threat to the public health. These drugs are marked as “legal” and consist of plant material coated by chemicals which mimic THC, the active principle of marijuana.
“Many people think that because a substance like this is legal it is safe. However, synthetic marijuana is extremely dangerous, and it is my hope that criminalizing its sale and use will help to avert further tragedy,” said Palmesano.
The legislation calls for an immediate prohibition on the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has issued a final order to place these synthetic cannabinoids into Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), and the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement also was strongly in support of this legislation to ban these substances in New York. Furthermore, in March 2012, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health issued an order banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products in New York State.
As of May 2012, 41 states have codified bans on the sale and use of synthetic cannabinoids. According to the New York State Department of Health, calls to New York State Poison Control Centers have increased significantly this year, and severe side effects, including death, acute renal failure, as well as other significant negative effects to the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, have been linked to use of these products. In fact, according to the New York Times, poison control centers received 5,741 calls about it through October 31 of last year, almost double the number for all of 2010.
According to a study sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institutes of Health, one out of nine high school students have used synthetic marijuana within the past year. Moreover, these products do not show up on a urine drug screen as THC.
“It is imperative that we take action to ensure the safety and well-being of our children,” said Palmesano. “This legislation will ensure that these dangerous and sometimes deadly drugs will be far less available to the youth in our communities.”