TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law and the penal
law, in relation to synthetic cannabinoids
To prohibit the sale and distribution of chemical compounds that mimic
the effects of marijuana by adding it to the control substance list.
It would also amend the penal law to include synthetic cannabinoids or
synthetic cannabinoid analog in the definition of marijuana.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends § 3302 of the Public Health Law by adding two new
subdivisions. New subdivision 44 defines synthetic cannabinoids as a
chemical compound that is chemically synthesized. Synthetic
cannabinoids are chemicals that have a binding effect on one or more
cannabinoid receptors, or are a chemical isomer, salt or salt of an
isomer of a compound that has demonstrated to have a binding activity
at one or more cannabinoid receptors. New subdivision 45-synthetic
cannabinoid analog is defined as any chemical that is substantially
similar in chemical structure to a chemical compound that has been
determined to have binding activity at one or ore cannabinoid
receptors. This definition would not apply to any products that have
been approved for medical use by the United States Food and Drug
Section 2 amends Subdivision 6 of § 220.00 of the Penal Law by adding
to the definition of marijuana to include synthetic cannabinoid or
synthetic cannabinoid analog.
Section 3 is the effective date.
Synthetic drugs, those that mimic the effects of banned drugs have
increasing become a public safety concern throughout the country. To
circumvent state and federal drug laws, the manufacturers of these
synthetic drugs market their products under the guise of being a
commonly used product, such as bath salts or incense. As a result, a
person can purchase these items at a local convenience store, smoke
shop or on the internet. News and medical community reports reveal
that the users of these products were having strong psychotic effects
as a result of ingesting or smoking the drug, including extreme
paranoia, hallucinations, hypertension, suicidal thoughts and in some
Synthetic cannabinoids were developed by former Clemson Professor of
organic chemistry, John William Huffman. Funded through the National
Institute of Health, Professor Huffman and his team researched and
began developing cannabinoid compounds to aid in the treatment of
multiple sclerosis, AIDS and chemotherapy. His research developed over
450 synthetic cannabinoid compounds, all which mimic how “cannabinoid
receptors” react when smoking or ingesting marijuana. His formula was
published in the Journal of Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry and it
did not take long for underground chemists began creating their own
compounds for sale.
There have been recent actions to combat the use of synthetic drugs.
In March 2012, an Executive Order was issued banning the sale or
distribution of products containing synthetic cannabinoids. The
Executive Order applied a civil penalty for non-compliance by
businesses. In August, the New York State Department of Health issued
new regulations making it illegal to possess certain bath salts and
synthetic drugs. Penalties under the new regulation include a tine up
to $500 and/or a fifteen day jail sentence for those caught using or
selling synthetic drugs. Additionally, in July of 2014, the Federal
Government banned several popular types of synthetic marijuana and
bath salts in the Food and Drug Safety and Innovation Act.
Despite these various actions taken at the federal, state and in some
instances, at the local level, enforcing these bans have proven
difficult due to manufacturers’ ability to alter chemical compounds
and circumvent the law. Shortly after the ban went into effect, it was
reported that stores began selling different types of synthetic drugs
not included in the list of banned products. This has become a problem
for states because banning an item or putting it on the controlled
substance list requires knowing the chemical compound of such item.
With nearly 400 compounds or more in existence, this has created
challenges for many states, including New York.
This legislation bans those products that produce the same effect on a
person’s cannabinoid receptors, defines synthetic cannabinoid as a
controlled substance product,excludes those chemical compounds
approved by the FDA and would add synthetic cannabinoids to the
definition of marijuana in the Penal Law. This is a comprehensive and
proactive approach to addressing this issue rather than waiting to
discover a new chemical compound after it reaches the public.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
This act shall take effect immediately.