Syracuse (WSYR-TV) – Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced new regulations that he says are designed to combat synthetic drugs and bath salts.
According to new state health department regulations, the list of prohibited drugs and chemicals associated with synthetic drugs will be expanded in order to keep manufacturers from skirting laws by changing the ingredients.
In addition, under the new regulations, a store owners as well as employees can be charged with possession of an illicit substance if they sell bath salts or synthetic drugs and could face fines of up to $500 and potentially wind up in jail for 15 days.
"What this legislature is trying to do is get out in front of this issue that's hurting our community we're seeing the numbers are quadruple what they were a year ago,” said Legislator Danny Liedka.
During Tuesday’s legislative session, lawmakers passed the be-safe initiative. This will place police and health experts in the classroom for face-to-face intervention. More importantly, local lawmakers also made it illegal to sell or possess synthetic drugs in the county, mirroring the state’s new regulation.
“The law department in the county will look at the county law and look at the state law and if they are very similar or identical the state law will pre-empt the county law, but if their different they will both remain in effect and move forward,” said Legislator Patrick M. Kilmartin.
Bath salts and synthetic drugs have been connected to a rash of bizarre and often violent incidents in Upstate New York and throughout the U.S.
Several municipalities, including the cities of Syracuse and Utica, have passed local legislation to combat the drugs.
In July, local and Federal law-enforcement agents raided “head shops” in Central and Western New York that allegedly sold synthetic drugs. The local effort was part of a national campaign against synthetic drugs called "Operation Log Jam."
Both the state and local regulations go into effect immediately.