New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. has issued an order of summary action banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products in New York State. These substances, generally referred to as “synthetic marijuana”, consist of plant material coated by chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
K2 is now illegal to be sold in New York State.
New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. issued an order banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products in the state March 29.
“This is a very big step, but it is not the end,” Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague said. “It is now illegal to sell synthetic marijuana in New York under civil penalty, but we still need legislation to make it illegal to possess. We can’t let our guard down.”
The substances consists of plant material coated by chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. These products are being sold as a “legal alternative” to marijuana in convenience stores, smoke shops, and tobacco stores with brand names such as “Spice,” “K2,” “Mr. Nice Guy,” and “Galaxy Gold.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called upon the Department of Health to take action to ban the sale of these dangerous products.
“It is pretty unprecedented to see something enacted and being effective immediately,” Sprague said. “It shows how important this is to the governor and now, at least this poison is off the shelves.”
“I think that this is phenomenal and something that is long overdue,” Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting said. “This was a loophole that was putting some very dangerous, toxic substances in the hands of kids.”
“I am very excited that the state commissioner saw the need to do this and that the governor called upon the Health Department to take that action,” Essex County Department of Public Health Director Linda Beers said. “In Essex County, there has been a wonderful community collaboration of many groups to make this danger known and combat it.”
“Essex County has been very vigilant in our efforts to educate our communities on the dangers of this drug and also encourage local retailers to pull this poison off their shelves before they were made to do it,” Sprague said. “We must continue to educate our children, our colleagues and peers as this in not a public health concern just isolated to our youth, and we must continue to push our legislature to pass a law that will make this drug illegal not only to sell or distribute, but to possess.”
“I think that this is a wonderful thing,” Karen Crowningshield, Assistant Nurse Manager at Elizabethtown Community Hospital, said. “It looks like the governor is taking steps to get something done immediately through the Health Department.”
The order calls for sales and distribution to stop immediately. Local health officials are being ordered to check for compliance. Violators can face civil penalties.
Synthetic marijuana has been a topic in the North Country for a number of months, and the Essex County BEST committee recently held a meeting to talk about the product and its effects.
“The ultimate goal is to come up with an organizational action plan that we can all get behind and work together to solve this problem,” Michael Mascarenas, of the Essex County Youth Bureau, said. “We want to make this an united effort and attack this together.”
“I can do whatever I want on behalf of my kids, and I want this out so my daughter can’t get it there,” Elizabethtown Community Center Director Arin Burdo said.
Sprague said that they plan to continue to spend time in local schools offering a presentation created by Elizabethtown-Lewis junior Brody Hooper, and a walk has been planned for April 30 at 11:30 a.m. at the Essex County Government Center in Elizabethtown to help raise awareness for the need to ban the product.
“Maybe we will be having a celebratory walk to applaud our state legislators for making synthetic marijuana illegal,” Sprague said. “That would be a great outcome for a small county who took big steps to push for this legislation.”