G overnor Andrew Cuomo is cracking down on the possession and sale of synthetic drugs commonly called "bath salts."
The Governor stopped in Syracuse Tuesday afternoon as part of a series of news conferences across the state. According to a news release, Cuomo is announcing the issuance of new regulations by the New York State Department of Health designed to "crack down on the increasingly widespread use of bath salts and other synthetic drugs." Following an emergency meeting of the Public Health Council, the Health Department will expand the existing list of prohibited drugs and chemicals "to include dozens more substances that are now used to make synthetic drugs."
The regulations will allow authorities to charge a store owner or employee with "possession of an illicit substance." The regulations will increase criminal penalties for those who violate the rules with fines of up to $500 and up to 15 days in jail.
"We must do everything we can to remove these harmful substances from sale and distribuition in New York." Cuomo said. During the news conference, the Governor repeatedly referred to the drugs a poison. "It's poison, that's what it is, it's an illegal drug. It's an old enemy with a new face and a new tactic
The news release says "Although federal law bans the manufacture and sale of many of these substances, as a result of the new regulations put in place today, local law enforcement officials for the first time will be able to pursue perpetrators under state laws and refer violators to local District Attorneys for prosecution."
The enacting new regulations through the Health Department, Cuomo is doing administratively what the state legislature has so far failed to do. Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick told reporters, "We now have these regulations from Governor Cuomo that we;re going to use to prosecute. We're hoping the state legislature enacts a proper statute at some time in the future."
Within an hour after the news conference concluded, Syracuse Police raided the Sky High headshop on Butternut Street. A police spokesman said officers confiscated a number of items that cvould be synthetic drugs containing illegal compounds. The items will be turned over to a lab for analysis. The results will then be forwarded to the District Attorney's office.