The use of synthetic marijuana is a growing epidemic in our communities, especially among young adults. In 2011 this issue hit home in the County of Rockland, when three teens were rushed to the hospital after ingesting synthetic marijuana purchased in the Palisades Mall. Recently there have been numerous crimes reported involving individuals under the influence of synthetic marijuana; including, a man in upstate New York abusing his newborn child; a 17 year old in Washington who murdered another teen; and most recently a Michigan teen that beat his father to death with a baseball bat.
Synthetic marijuana is any substance with structural features and effects similar to those in THC, the main compound found in marijuana. These drugs are chemically created in laboratories where the effects of marijuana are enhanced resulting in a hazardous and addictive drug. These chemicals are extremely dangerous and have the potential to alter an individual’s rational behavior.
The use of this synthetic drug is widespread and is a growing trend among teens because of its legal status and accessibility. A recent study showed that one out of nine high school students have tried synthetic marijuana within the past year.
I applaud Governor Cuomo’s recent executive order banning the sale of synthetic marijuana in New York State. Now it’s time to pass legislation and make this ban permanent.
Two years ago I introduced the first bill banning this substance. Since that time I have developed two bills that comprehensively ban these chemicals. A7324 would prohibit the sale of all synthetic marijuana chemical compounds. In addition, I recently introduced A9885 which places synthetic marijuana chemicals on the controlled substance list. This bill mirrors legislation proposed on the federal level.
What separates my bills from other proposals is the description and definition of the banned chemicals. My bills utilize a generic definition that will encompass all possible chemical concoctions. Narrow definitions can easily be avoided by slightly manipulating the chemical compounds.
As of March 1, 2012, there are at least 39 States that have legislatively banned some or all synthetic marijuana compounds. New York needs to join the ranks of these other states and put a permanent law on the books to protect our children from these dangerous chemicals.
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski
94th District (D-New City)