Lewis County, Cuomo Crack Down On Synthetic Drugs
The Lewis County legislature agreed Tuesday to a ban on synthetic drugs that imitate the effects of marijuana and cocaine.
The first of its kind in the north country law makes possessing the drugs a misdemeanor. Jefferson County is expected to enact a similar law by the end of the month.
Sheriff Mike Carpinelli welcomed the law. "We're just like a lot of counties," he said. "We have cases every day."
Meanwhile, Gov.Cuomo announced new regulations Tuesday that could put people who use or sell synthetic drugs in jail and set up a hotline New Yorkers can call to report information about the substances.
The state's Department of Health is issuing new rules aimed at cracking down on the increasingly widespread use of bath salts and other synthetic drugs.
The new regulations will expand the existing list of prohibited drugs to include the dozens of substances used to make the drugs.
Also, for the first time, an owner or employee of a head shop selling the drugs can now be charged with possession.
Users and sellers will face fines up to $500 and 15 days in jail.
"Bath salts and other synthetic drugs pose a direct, serious threat to public health and safety, and we must do everything we can to remove these harmful substances from sale and distribution in New York," Cuomo said.
State officials say the use of synthetic drugs has risen dangerously. Already in 2012, they say, there have been 191 emergency room visits in upstate New York attributed to bath salts, including 120 in June and July.
That compares with 39 emergency room visits in all of 2011.
These regulations come after a series of federal raids two weeks ago on head shops across the U.S., including several in central New York and Tebb's Head Shop in Watertown.
Tebb's and another local head shop, Trip on the Wild Side II, are being sued by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for selling drugs in violation of the state's labeling laws.
There's also a new statewide hotline for people to report information about anyone abusing, selling or making synthetic drugs.
That hotline is 1-888-99SALTS (1-888-997-2587).
See the Department of Health's website about synthetic drugs.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, Watertown, NY
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