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NY To Criminalize Sales Of K2

Yesterday, the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety held hearings about the rise in concerns over synthetic cannabinoids such as "spice" or "K2."  Along with the Committees on Health and the Committee on Mental Health; Developmental Disability, Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Disability Services; and the Committee on Consumer Affairs, an agreement has been made to curb the sales and use of synthetic marijuana.

The Mayor's office has plans to introduce a public education plan as well as a multi-agency task force that will focus on criminalizing the sale of these substances.  Synthetic cannabinoids have been more frequently used by the homeless who need to pass drug tests in order to be admitted into homeless shelters as well as those on probation trying to avoid jail time.  Although synthetic drugs such as “K2,” “Spice” and “Green Giant” were once legal, the market has begun prohibiting drugs that give off similar yet dangerous effects of marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA) and other illegal drugs.  

Advocates are for public health interventions but they are against the de Blasio Administration and the City Council criminalizing these drugs.  Kassandra Frederique, New York Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance stated, “Sensible and thoughtful regulation, along with comprehensive drug education, is the best way to keep these drugs out of the hands of young people.”  The best alternative to locking people up for synthetic cannabinoids is regulation, control and education.  Not to mention, allowing criminalization would only give police enforcement more of a reason to interact with or confront herbalists.