Cuomo Cracks Down on Bath Salt "Poison"
New York users and store owners face fines or jail for the possession or sale of synthetic drugs.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking a stand against synthetic drugs: the state Department of Health has made it a crime to possess synthetic drugs such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana, and it's also now illegal for stores to carry them under any name. “We’re talking about poison," says Cuomo. "This is poison that is being distributed and sold.” Individuals can be charged with possession of an illicit substance and face fines up to $500 and up to 15 days in jail, while stores attempting to sell them face up to $2,000 per violation. "It will give us some teeth to go in and take the product off the shelf and issue at least appearance tickets,” says Joseph D’Amico, superintendent of State Police. “And it gives the Department of Health the opportunity to follow up with these locations with civil proceedings.” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued 16 head shops last month for mislabeling substances such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts in an alleged attempt to evade federal and state laws. Bath salt-related emergency room visits in upstate New York have soared from 39 last year to 191 so far in 2012, with 120 coming in June and July. According to the state Poison Control Center, there were 20 calls concerning synthetic marijuana poisonings in 2010, compared to 291 in 2011 and 321 through the first six months of this year.