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City Bans Sale of Synthetic Marijuana, Citing Health Risks

Calls to Poison Control about the drug, which until now have been sold in stores, rose sharply this year.

The city's Department of Health has issued a ban on synthetic marijuana, after a sharp increase in calls to the city’s Poison Control Center from users who are experiencing side effects.

According to city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, synthetic marijuana has been linked to increased heart rate, hypertension, seizure, loss of consciousness as well as acute renal failure and death. The drugs are sold as incense or potpourri under names such as “Mr. Nice Guy”, “K2”, “Spice” “Galaxy Gold”, and “Smiley Dog”.

“The drugs that are sold as ‘synthetic marijuana’ are new and poorly understood, but reports from poison control centers show that they are toxic and can be very dangerous,” Commissioner Farley said. “Because they are sold in stores, people may believe they are safe, and use of these drugs is increasing rapidly in New York City. With this order we are getting them off store shelves and telling everyone in New York City to never use them.”

Calls to Poison Control about users suffering side effects from the drug have increased in recent years, rising from 4 in 2010 to 71 in 2011 and 44 so far in 2012. About a third of these have occurred among children. In some cases, symptoms have been minor, including shortness of breath, dizziness and vomiting, and in others they have been more severe, including high blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures. 

“Synthetic cannabinoids are not marijuana,” Dr. Robert Hoffman, Executive Director of the New York City Poison Control Center, said. “They are unique drugs made in a lab that have one effect in common with marijuana but potentially many other different effects. They are sold as herbal products, giving users a perception of safety, but in fact they are toxic drugs sprayed on plant leaves.”

As a result of the ban, retailers will not be allowed to sell or distribute synthetic marijuana, and those who fail to comply could be subject to fines and other penalties. The DOH will begin delivering the order to stores today and mailing the order to some 10,000 retailers next week.

Jenny March 30, 2012 at 03:20 PM
this is a very disturbing story. especially the part about children.
Dios Thunders April 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
GOOD the stuff is SICK! someone without my knowing passed me a joint and it was HELL-O horrid., to let this be available kids will get it as easy as they get booze and pills and the pills out now script pills are really bad there opium based not to mention whatever weird junk there taking.., there also snorting bath salts to get high YEA! no joking...aYet another reason to legalize or decrimminalize marijuana and let medical marijuana become legal in NY..I mean this is NYC!..I feel sorry for kids today its bad enough they dont really have alot of GREAT MUSIC they have weird lousy horrible fake and dangerous script drugs..dont know how they manage to text so much on that junk...that fake weed is BAD news as snorting bath salts ( YES ITS TRUE)
Sofiarun June 27, 2012 at 07:37 AM
While the debate rages on as to whether medical marijuana has health benefits, at least we are clear that the synthetic ones should be banned. Those are dangerous!

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