Last month the New York Senate passed bills aimed at regulating the sale of synthetic marijuana and other cannabinoids. The new bills not only provide for criminal prosecution for anyone possessing or selling cannabinoids, they also provide for civil penalties such as loss of a liquor license or license to sell lottery tickets and tobacco for business owners who are found to be selling these drugs.
These bills follow New York Governor Cuomo’s emergency regulations in 2015 also aimed at curbing the spread of synthetic drugs, due in part to the increase in emergency room visits associated with the drugs and a growing recognition of the dangers posed to people using synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs may be consumed by users who want to get the same effects as using a more traditional drug, without the risk of being arrested for possession or distribution. Synthetic drugs can often be found in convenience stores and other such locations and may be more easily accessible than the drugs whose effects they mimic.
Synthetic drugs, also known by street names such as K2, Flakka, or Gravel, are not exactly like marijuana or any plant-based drug. Synthetic marijuana typically affects the same part of the brain as the chemical found in marijuana. Manufacturers often market the drugs by spraying the chemicals onto plant material that may be smoked. Some shop owners label the drugs as potpourri and other innocuous substances in attempts to avoid prosecution for selling analogue drugs, which are unlawful if they are intended for human consumption. In many ways synthetic marijuana is more dangerous than the real kind, and has more reported deaths associated with it. Under the new bills, these synthetic drugs will be added to the schedule of controlled substances and criminalized like marijuana, heroin, or cocaine.
Should the bills be passed into law, conviction of a misdemeanor possession charge of the synthetic drugs could result in a jail term of up to one year. Additionally, like with other illegal drugs, depending on the amount of synthetic drugs a person is charged with possessing or distributing, conviction of possession or distribution of felony amounts could result in significant state prison terms.
The New York Department of Health would also be required to maintain a database of known synthetic drugs, their chemical composition, a description of the drugs and their street names.
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If you are a facing New York State or federal drug possession, manufacturing, or trafficking charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you. Contact experienced Syracuse criminal defense attorney George F. Hildebrandt for a consultation today.