Lawmakers are stepping up in the fight against synthetic drugs, and one North Shore official said it was a major milestone in a personal initiative to combat abuse.
State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) joined with Senate Majority Coalition leaders and the Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) to help pass a package of bills that aims to prevent the abuse of deadly synthetic drugs. In a statement, Flanagan said the drugs have become more prevalent across Long Island because their effects are similar to other known hallucinogens or narcotics. But their chemical structures, Flanagan said, are slightly altered, making it more difficult to restrict them.
“The spread of synthetic drugs is affecting every community and will continue to destroy lives unless more preventive action is taken,” Flanagan said. “For five years, I have sponsored legislation that has passed the Senate on numerous occasions so that we can hold criminals accountable for the creation of new and dangerous drugs that evade our current laws. It is past time for the Assembly to join us and help put an end to synthetic drugs today.”
If the Senate bill passes, the state would zero in on the sale of the synthetic drugs known as K2, Alpha-PVP and others similar to them, by creating criminal penalties for possession and sale. The Department of Health would have to maintain an electronic database of known synthetic cannabinoids, listing their compounds, a description of products and their street names, lawmakers said. The legislation would also amend the Controlled Substances Act to add analogous drugs, Flanagan said.
With support from the Senate Majority Coalition and Klein, who heads the Independent Democratic Conference, lawmakers released a report called “The State of Synthetics: A Review of the Synthetic Cannabinoid Drug Problem in New York and Solutions on Ending the Epidemic” earlier this year. The report found that New York taxpayers fronted roughly $22.7 million to respond to what Flanagan called a public health crisis in 2015.
“We must KO K2 from upstate to downstate, and the Senate will send a strong message that synthetic drugs will not be tolerated in our state,” Klein said. “My analog bill will ensure that New York keeps ahead of the chemists’ curve and will ban chemicals that mimic controlled substances as they are tweaked, so the law can no longer be subverted. Now, the Assembly must take action to protect the citizens of New York State.”