Updated 08/07/2012 08:57 PM
Cuomo: State Getting Real On Synthetic Drug Enforcement
Bath salts are illegal but that doesn't mean they can’t be found. To crack down on these underground drugs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that the state would expand its ban to cover even more substances that officials say can lead to extremely violent behavior. NY1’s Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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Synthetic marijuana packaging may say incense but it doesn't look like incense. And now, possession of it could put you behind bars.
"There are a lot of words that are used when we are talking about this topic: designer drugs, synthetic marijuana, bath salts. My word for this compound is poison,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo announced a new state crackdown on this underground designer drug and others, like bath salts, on Tuesday. The state banned them last year and the federal government followed suit last month.
The drugs, which come with flashy names like Mr. Nice Guy, can cause severe side effects.
"Violent behavior as well as chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rates, kidney failure and even death,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, the state health commissioner.
Just a few months ago, store owners said you could find synthetic marijuana and bath salts at smoke shops in the East Village.
Now, they say they have stopped selling them because of the federal and state crackdowns. But as the laws changed, so did the chemical makeup of the drugs. So they weren't completely eliminated.
In fact, NY1 was able to buy the drugs at a shop, Fantasy Tattoo, in the West Village. The employee there insisted it was legal.
Police said that's part of the problem.
"The drug manufacturers chemically modified them to make them legal under state law,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
Under the new regulations, dozens of other chemicals will be illegal so the state can stay ahead of manufacturers.
Law enforcement will be able to charge store owners with possession. And getting caught with a bag might mean 15 days in jail and a $500 fine.
This is the just latest crackdown. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been suing individual shops for mislabeling these drugs.
"They say, 'oh well, this is labeled not for human use,'" Schneiderman said. "But they would give you a whole tutorial on how to take it."
The new ban takes effect immediately.