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Ortt, Kearns join forces to fight New York's synthetic drug crisis


Thu, Jun 18th 2015 06:15 pm

Bill to broaden scope of synthetic drugs to be considered illegal

New York State Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Co-Chair Sen. Rob Ortt and his Senate colleagues passed a bill Wednesday that would help put more drug dealers behind bars for selling dangerous synthetic drugs. Ortt's bill (S.5888) amends the law by designating a host of synthetic drugs as illegal. It would broaden the scope of current synthetic drugs that are considered illegal.

"There's no silver bullet when it comes to ending the growing trend of synthetic drugs that's especially popular among young adults," Ortt said. "Drug dealers shouldn't be able to change the chemical makeup of a controlled substance, sell it as a toxic synthetic drug, and escape the consequences currently on the books. I commend Assemblyman (Mickey) Kearns for leading this fight in the Assembly to help protect our communities and crack down on drug dealers."

State legislator Kearns is sponsoring this bill in the Assembly.

"Synthetic drugs are a burgeoning epidemic in America and present a significant risk to New York state," Kearns said. "Ingesting a single pill with the active ingredients no larger than the tip of a ballpoint pen has killed young adults. The synthetic substances that have acute toxic and deadly effects are cannabinoids, cathinones, phenethylamines, phenylpiperazines and tryptamines, among others."

Under this bill, selling, using or possessing synthetic drugs, including synthetic marijuana, herbal incense, bath salts and other substances containing hallucinogenic chemicals, which are not prescribed by a physician, would be a class E felony. The existing statutes do not currently cover these drugs.

Currently, the sale of existing controlled substances is a class D felony, and possession is a class A misdemeanor.

According to the Association of Poison Control, in 2010, there were 1,300 overdoses in the U.S. that were directly related to synthetic drugs. In 2011, overdose numbers exponentially increased to 13,000. Poison Control said more than half the users were younger than 25 years old.

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