February 6, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces 30-Day Budget Amendment to Ban Sales of Synthetic Marijuana Across New York State

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces 30-Day Budget...

Legislation Will Add 36 Different Chemical Compositions to the State's Controlled Substances List

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a 30-day budget amendment will be advanced to add 36 different chemical compositions to the state's controlled substances list. The 36 compounds, commonly referred to as K2, are already listed on the federal schedule of controlled substances but are only banned in certain New York State counties. This action will ensure manufactures and sellers in every one of New York's counties are subject to the same criminal penalties.

"As the manufacturers of this poison continue to evolve and find new and insidious ways to skirt the law, New York's statutes must continue to keep pace," Governor Cuomo said. "With this action, we'll continue to identify and crack down on hazardous compounds that emerge in our communities, and give law enforcement the tools they need to end this public health threat."

Synthetic marijuana is often marketed and sold in colorful and playful looking packets with street names such as K2, Spice, and AK-47. These packets contain plant material coated by chemicals, which are supposed to mimic the effects of naturally grown marijuana, making them both extremely unpredictable and dangerous. In July 2016, dozens of residents in Brooklyn were found staggering through the streets as a result of an exceedingly potent batch, leaving 33 people hospitalized. This incident and others like it have shown a great need for aggressive action to ensure New Yorkers are protected from harmful and illegal chemical compositions.

Under current law, in several counties across the state, an owner of an establishment, as well as any other person possessing, distributing, selling or offering prohibited synthetic marijuana for sale, will face a fine up to $500 and/or up to 15 days in jail. Civil penalties can also carry a fine up to $2,000 per violation. Currently penalties are not uniform and are permitting this public health threat to continue.

This budget amendment builds on New York's aggressive efforts to crack down on the illegal sale of K2. The Governor first expanded the list of prohibited drugs and chemicals in 2012 to include dozens more substances being to make synthetic drugs. In 2015, the Governor added two additional classes of compounds to the banned substances list, which were unanimously approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council. In July 2016, New York stepped up statewide enforcement efforts to ensure that businesses fully comply with all applicable laws, including the 2012 emergency regulations banning the manufacture, sale, and distribution of synthetic marijuana. The Governor also directed the Department of Health's Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the State Liquor Authority and the New York State Gaming Commission to revoke liquor and lottery licenses from stores found to be illegally peddling K2.

Since the Governor announced the crackdown in 2016, State Police have made 13 arrests, seized more than 1,100 packets of synthetic marijuana, and one three-pound bulk seizure.

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