The State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. has issued a ban on sales of synthetic marijuana in New York State. At least 2 deaths in Central New York have been attributed to it.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called upon the Department of Health to take action to ban the sale of these dangerous products.
Senator Charles Schumer supports the ban and was
in Syracuse last month pushing for legislation
that would make it illegal. Schumer says stores surrounding the Syracuse University campus were openly selling synthetic marijuana.
These products are being sold in convenience stores, smoke shops, and tobacco stores with brand names such as "spice", "k2", "Mr. Nice guy", and "galaxy gold".
Last week, Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow
sent special health alerts to local health departments
, emergency departments and other health care providers to make them aware of the dangers of these products.
Schumer says these substances can lead to seizures, hallucinations, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and panic attacks as well as dangerous and erratic behavior.
"Governor Cuomo did the right thing enacting a state ban on this noxious product," Senator Schumer said in a written statement. "We are working very hard to establish a federal ban so that kids seeking out these dangerous drugs canâ??t simply hop in a car and cross state borders to get a deadly high."
Synthetic marijuana generally consists of plant material coated by chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Schumer says producers have tried to evade drug enforcement agency bans by slightly altering the chemical compound of their products and re-packaging them.
"We hear time and time again from the young people that are abusing the drug that they don't have a clue it's as dangerous as it is and I suspect the parents don't either," Dr. Marrow said.
The Commissionerâ??s order calls for sales and distribution of synthetic marijuana to stop immediately and for health officials to check for compliance. Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow explained the enforcement process, saying "Basically what we are doing is we are going to the stores and making sure they know about the orde,r and than making sure they are in compliance with the order. If they are not in compliance with the order, we will report them to the State Health Department for further action."