Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia) announced that new regulations, adopted by the New York State Department of Health, would crack down on the use of bath salts and other synthetic drugs – making it harder for a person to sell or possess the now illegal drugs. Bath salts and other synthetic drugs are modified and manufactured in the same fashion as other controlled substances – users are continually changing the chemical make-up of the drugs to avoid detection of law enforcement and legal repercussions. They are labeled as ‘bath salts’ or ‘legal alternatives’ to other types of illegal drugs, in order to cover-up and market their true purpose.
“Drugs, including bath salts and other synthetic substances, are a danger to the health and safety of our communities and must be controlled,” said Hawley. “I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo and the department of health for adopting new regulations that go after and make it harder to possess and sell these dangerous substances.”
Hawley pointed to the rise in the number of New Yorkers using synthetic drugs over the past two years, stressing the need for tighter regulations.
According to the governor’s office, in 2011, there were 39 reported emergency room visits in Upstate New York as a result of bath salts. So far this year, there have been 191 such visits with 120 occurring this past June and July. According to the New York State Poison Control Center, in 2010 there were only 20 calls concerning synthetic marijuana poisonings. There were 291 in 2011, and there were already 321 through the first six months of 2012.
“With these new regulations in place, local law enforcement officials will be able to pursue users and refer violators to local district attorneys for prosecution,” said Hawley. “The penalties and fines are now more severe, which will help curb behaviors of sellers and those who possess the drugs.”