Synthetic drugs are sold under several names, including bath salts, K2, Spice and White Lightning.
PLATTSBURGH — It causes psychotic episodes in children and adults, sending both to the hospital.
Authorities think it might be responsible for at least one suicide over the past year.
Yet businesses continue to sell synthetic drugs.
That is why the Clinton County Legislature recently made it illegal to possess synthetic drugs with penalties that include jail time.
“We are trying to get this off our streets,” said Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wiley.
Synthetic cannabinoids and other synthetic drugs, such as bath salts, come in a variety of products, including K2, Spice and White Lightning.
Clinton County Legislator Sara Rowden (D-Area 4, Town of Plattsburgh) has spoken with psychiatrists who have admitted individuals to the hospital with severe reactions to synthetic drugs.
Clinton County Legislator John Gallagher (D-Area 9, City of Plattsburgh) has had a career in education and knows of middle-school students suffering from severe reactions, even psychotic episodes.
“They are as young as 12,” he said. “It is a pretty scary thing.”
This past August, the state of New York made it illegal to sell synthetic cannabinoids and other synthetic drugs, slapping those who continued to do so with fines.
“A number of establishments have said they will take the fine because the amount of money they are making exceeds the fine,” Wiley said.
“They know what is taking place, but they know it is a profit, so they continue to sell it,” said Clinton County Legislator Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac). “They should be embarrassed.”
Wiley said one of the reasons the county is moving forward with the law is because the state has failed to move forward with felony charges.
He hopes possible jail time will deter local businesses from selling synthetic drugs.
The new local law carries a misdemeanor for possession, which can bring up to one year in jail.
Legislators unanimously approved the law, though it must be filed with the Secretary of State to take effect.
Wiley’s office recently purchased synthetic drugs from one local business, while another that once sold them has since taken them off the shelves.
“One is a head shop and one is convenient store,” Wiley said.
The use of synthetic drugs is on the rise in Clinton County.
There is a big expense to taxpayers, Clinton County Sheriff Dave Favro said. People using the drugs are often sent to jail, and/or the hospital.
“The danger is we don’t fully understand them,” Favro said. “With synthetic drugs, any little change in the chemical composition can create a new health issue.”
He said people of all ages are using synthetic drugs.
“We are seeing a number of young adults affected, and a number of kids hospitalized,” Wiley said.