Assemblywoman Gunther Helps Pass Bill to Get Man-Made ‘Pot’ Off Streets

Synthetic marijuana a rising threat to teens

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D,C-Forestburgh) announced that the Assembly passed legislation she co-sponsored that would add synthetic cannabinoid compounds to the controlled substances list – effectively banning the sale and possession of such drugs (A.9855-A). Possession with intent to sell synthetic cannabinoid compounds would be punishable by up to seven years in jail under the Assembly’s legislation.

“The use of synthetic marijuana is a dangerous trend that is rapidly growing, especially among our teenagers and young adults,” Gunther said. “By making these substances illegal, we can crack down on its distribution and protect Hudson Valley teens.”

Synthetic marijuana – also known as Spice or K2 – is any substance with features and effects similar to those in Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main compound found in marijuana. Synthetic marijuana is often sold as herbal incense and labeled not for human consumption, allowing manufacturers to avoid government regulation.i

“With synthetic marijuana available for purchase at head shops, convenience stores and online, its accessibility and legal status makes it a drug of choice among many teens,” Gunther said. “In the past year alone, one in nine high school students have used synthetic marijuana. This legislation will help keep these drugs out of vulnerable hands, as using them can have serious and fatal consequences.”

In 2011, there were almost 7,000 calls made to poison-control centers about exposure to synthetic marijuana.ii Recently, the New York State Department of Health placed a ban on the sale of synthetic marijuana in an effort to protect more New Yorkers from the damaging effects of these drugs.

Synthetic substances are chemically manufactured in laboratories where the effects of marijuana are enhanced, resulting in a dangerous and addictive drug. Using these drugs produces symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, rapid heart beats, high blood pressure, violent behavior and death. Other physical signs of use include increased agitation, pale skin, seizures, vomiting, profuse sweating and uncontrolled body movements.