Mayor signs curbs on sale of synthetic marijuana into law

By Sadef Ali Kully

Three new bills, sponsored by a Queens councilman were signed into law Tuesday by Mayor Bill de Blasio to curb the use of K2 synthetic marijuana and increase violations for sellers or manufacturers.

The three bills are part of a multi-agency enforcement, education and prevention strategy against K2.

“K2 is a poison that threatens public safety and public health,” de Blasio said. “To date, NYPD has indicted 10 sellers, seized $17.5 million worth of K2 products, ingredients, and paraphernalia – and we will continue this enforcement to send a clear message: Making K2 or selling it to New Yorkers is a criminal activity that will not be tolerated.”

The strategy aims to reduce the presence and use of K2 by aggressively cracking down on suppliers while offering supportive services and treatment to users in need.

“This has been an issue of great personal importance to me, with 125th Street and Lexington Avenue being at the center of the K2 problem,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan).

“We have been working relentlessly to eradicate this poison. This law affords us additional tools to continue to combat the scourge of K2,” said Police Commissioner William Bratton.

K2 or synthetic cannabinoids are leaves sprayed with unpredictable and diverse chemical combinations that are either smoked or ingested. The drugs go by a variety of names, such as K2, Spice, Green Giant, and Caution, and have adverse side effects ranging from vomiting to seizures to hallucinations to violent behavior.

The legislation, sponsored by Mark-Viverito and Council members, is part of a multi-agency strategy to use enforcement, education and prevention efforts to reduce K2 in the city.

The laws will make selling K2 will become a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines and revoke, suspend or refuse to renew a cigarette dealer’s license due to the sale of synthetic drugs or imitation synthetic drugs.

“With the signing of these bills, we will begin to choke off the K2 pipeline by imposing severe penalties on the operators of known synthetic marijuana distribution centers,” Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Ozone Park), who sponsored the legislation, said

Since January, there have been more than 4,500 synthetic cannabinoid-related emergency department visits across the city. Almost 90 percent of these emergency room visits were made by patients with a median age of 37 and disproportionately residents of shelters and individuals with a psychiatric illness. Nearly all – 99 percent – of patients are age 18 and older, according to the city.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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