Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) announced the Assembly passed a bill he authored to add synthetic cannabinoids, the primary ingredients in , to the list of controlled substances.
“I’ve been fighting against this dangerous drug for over two years because these substances jeopardize the safety of our children,” Zebrowski said. “The manufacturers and vendors of synthetic marijuana have abused a loophole in our drug laws for too long. It is well past time they are regulated like other drugs."
Synthetic marijuana, often sold as “herbal incense,” contains man-made cannabinoid compounds that mimic THC, the main compound found in marijuana. The effects of the engineered chemicals are enhanced and can cause agitation, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeats, tremors, psychotic episodes, withdrawal, dependence and seizures, among several other adverse health effects.
It has been labeled for non-human consumption, allowing synthetic marijuana to avoid government regulation. If the legislation is signed into law, it would close the loophole.
In late March, the New York State Department of Health sent out an order calling for all sales and distribution of synthetic marijuana to “cease immediately.” However, violators of the order have only been subject to civil action. Zebrowski’s legislation would extend criminal penalties to synthetic marijuana and make the possession of this drug a Class A misdemeanor and the sale a Class D felony.
Last year, three young adults in Rockland County were taken to the hospital for severe reactions to synthetic marijuana, according to Zebrowksi. A recent study found that one out of nine high school students have used synthetic marijuana within the past year and allegedly, the marijuana substitute has been the cause of several recent teen deaths.