June 20, 2013

Assembly Approves Bill to Criminalize
the Sale and Possession of Synthetic Marijuana

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski today announced the passage of legislation to criminalize the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana, a dangerous and increasingly available drug, manufactured in laboratories using chemical compounds that mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, (THC) the main compound found in cannabis.

"Due to a legal loophole, synthetic marijuana can be bought online or across state borders," said Silver. "These are dangerous chemicals that are easily accessible to our youth who do not understand the serious side effects it can cause. Criminalizing the sale and possession would effectively remove these dangerous substances from our communities."

Under the bill (A.1451-A) sponsored by Assemblyman Zebrowski, several chemical compounds used to manufacture synthetic marijuana would be added to the schedule of controlled substances. This classification would make the sale and possession punishable by imprisonment, a fine or both.

Silver and Zebrowski noted that last year the state Department of Health placed a ban on the sale of synthetic marijuana compounds in an effort to protect more New Yorkers from its damaging effects. These chemicals are falsely advertised as incense in order to be sold legally and have been a growing trend among teens.

"A recent study found that one out of nine high schools students has used synthetic marijuana within the past year," said Zebrowski. "The widespread use and availability of these dangerous chemicals puts the health and safety of all New Yorkers at risk, particularly our youth. Adding synthetic marijuana to list of controlled substances will help to combat that problem and get these dangerous chemicals off the streets and out of the hands of New York's children."