Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- The Onondaga County Health Department is pleased to announce that not a single packet of bath salts or any other synthetic drug was found Wednesday during a countywide search. 170 shops were checked just one day after Governor Cuomo announced new state regulations cracking down on the sale and use of synthetic drugs.
Local authorities are now taking advantage of the new tools to keep bath salts off the streets.
As soon as the new regulations were announced, Onondaga County Health Commissioner Cynthia Morrow had a team prepared to deliver affidavits explaining the new law to shop owners, while also checking for any synthetic drugs being sold.
“It's our job to protect the public's health. We know that these products are extremely dangerous. As the governor said, they're poisons. They have no business in our community, so as soon as we received the tool, which was the commissioner’s order, we were right out there on the streets going into the facilities, trying to make sure we're doing everything we can to protect the public,” Morrow told NewsChannel 9.
If they were to find any drugs on their search, the health department now has the authority to call local police departments to seize the drugs and send them off for testing.
“This gives us the legal authority to intervene. Even though we're not carting people off to jail right away, we do have the authority to intervene and take the substance off the street, which is huge,” said Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler.
Cynthia Morrow says the fact that no synthetic drugs were found this week in 170 shops across Onondaga County may be a sign their tireless efforts are paying off.
“It's a very hopeful sign that the distributors, the sellers, the people who are profiting on hurting us, hurting out community, hopefully they've gotten the message that we're not going to tolerate this,” said Morrow.
If health inspectors return to any shop and find synthetic drugs, they’ll be able to reference the affidavits. Shop owners were asked to sign the affidavits, stating they know and understand the new law from the health side and that they’d be knowingly violating the sanitation code and could be fined up to $2,000.
The health department has added yet another layer to enforcement efforts against synthetic drugs. The idea is that these shops are selling the drugs to make a profit. Different departments want to use every tool available, using a multi-pronged approach to hit them where it could hurt the most – in their wallets – and hopefully, that will deter anyone from selling the dangerous drugs.
If you know of anyone selling or using synthetic drugs, you can call your county health department or the Synthetic Drug Hotline at 1-888-997-2587.