Monday, April 2, 2012

From the Ulster Prevention Council Blog

On March 29, 2012, New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. 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. 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".

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called upon the Department of Health to take action to ban the sale of these dangerous products.

The order states, "synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to severe adverse reactions, including death and acute renal failure, and commonly cause: tachycardia (increased heart rate); paranoid behavior, agitation and irritability; nausea and vomiting; confusion; drowsiness; headache; hypertension; electrolyte abnormalities; seizures; and syncope (loss of consciousness).

The Commissioner's order calls for sales and distribution of these products to cease immediately and it calls upon local health officials to distribute the order and check for compliance.

Last week, the Commissioner 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.

The New York State ban is much stronger than the current temporary DEA ban on 5 synthetic cannabinoid compounds in that it encompasses products with a wide variety of chemical compounds that are synthesized to mimic the actions of THC.

In Ulster County, the town and village of Saugerties are currently in the process of conducting public hearings to move forward with laws that would ban the sale of all synthetic drugs, and county officials have expressed support for a county-wide ban.

The New York State order is available here:

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