Oswego County (WSYR-TV) -- On Thursday, Oswego County joined the growing list of places taking action in the fight against synthetic drugs.
A set of new local laws offer police more flexibility when someone is caught with synthetic drugs.
An early ban in New York allowed civil action against stores selling certain synthetic substances. State lawmakers can create stiffer penalties, including felony criminal charges.
The power of county lawmakers is limited. But local laws establishing misdemeanor offenses allow deputies to make arrests.
Oswego County legislators passed the four new drug laws under the watchful eyes of a determined crowd Thursday, including a mother who lost a son to synthetic drugs, his sister and aunt.
“We need to shut down the stores. We need to be able to walk into any of these head shops and know that there’s not going to be any of these products in there,” said Bonnie Caza, whose nephew died using synthetic drugs.
Two new local laws target sales and possession of bath salts, herbal incense, synthetic hallucinogens and salvia divinorum – a psychoactive plant.
Also, substances used to cheat drug and alcohol tests, including synthetic urine are prohibited.
And, a final measure established a public nuisance abatement law, pressuring property owners where drugs are sold.
“It’s a good first step. We need to take a second and third step. We need to make the punishment more serious. There have been more deaths from bath salts in this county this year than any other drug going,” said Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd.
“State and Federal laws, as you know, can be far more stringent. The other thing that is frustrating about it is that there seems to be a new loophole for the abusers of this everyday,” said Oswego County Legislature Chairman Fred Beardsley.
While Oswego County waits for tougher action by the state, the immediate goal is to let local sellers know they can face jail time if they're caught peddling synthetic drugs.