Counties want New York to crack down on bath salts and synthetic drugs

The New York State Association of Counties is calling upon the state legislature and Governor to get tough on synthetic drugs commonly called bath salts.

NYSAC is meeting at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool this week. On the agenda is a resolution endorsing Senate bill 6694A which would place synthetic drugs into the same classification as other controlled substances under Public Health law. The bill would allow for felony criminal penalties for the sale and possession of synthetic drugs depending upon the quantity seized.

NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "The state legislature has not passed a law for the Governor to sign to prevent this industry from spreading this product across New York State."

Synthetic drugs are often marketed as "bath salts," "incense" or "herbs" and are labeled "not for human consumption." But NYSAC President Mary Pat Hancock of Genesee County says many young people try synthetic drugs believing them to be safe and legal.

"We have to rip the glamor off this one because it's really lethal," says Hancock.

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order banning the sale and possession of synthetic drugs under Public Health law. Though the Governor's action allows police to confiscate synthetic drugs from head shops and other retailers, the penalties only amount to $500 fines and 15 days in jail.

Until the state legislature enacts tougher legislation, NYSAC has come up with a uniform law which individual municipalities can pass to make the sale and possession of bath salts a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1000 fine.

Many communities have already enacted similar laws.

On Thursday, the Oswego County Legislature will hold a public hearing at 7:00 p.m. on four proposed laws to combat the spread of synthetic drugs. Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley says the laws were drafted with the assistance of local law enforcement. Beardsley says the laws "give law enforcement the tools they need" to combat synthetic drugs.

Beardsley cited two recent drownings in Oswego County in which the victims were allegedly high on synthetic drugs.