TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the public health law and the penal law, in relation to
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.
Section 1 of the bill adds two new subdivisions, to section 3302 of the
Public Health Law.
Subdivision 41 - 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
Subdivision 42 - 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
more cannabinoid receptors. This definition would not apply to any
products that have been approved for medical use by the United States
Food and Drug Administration.
Section 2 of the bill amends Subdivision 6 of section 220.00 of the
Penal Law by adding to the definition of marijuana to include synthetic
cannabinoid or synthetic cannabinoid analog.
Section 3 sets forth 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 common-
ly 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
In 2011, New York State banned the sale and distribution of any product
containing 4 Methylmethcathinone, also known as Methlenedioxyprovaler-
one. Before the ban, products claiming to be bath salts contained the
drug listed above. When smoked or snorted, these bath salts produced a
reaction similar to what cocaine produces. News reports and the medical
community reported that the users of these products were having strong
psychotic effects as a result of ingesting or smoking the drug, includ-
ing extreme paranoia, hallucinations, hypertension and suicidal
The problems associated with synthetic marijuana are very similar to the
public safety and medical problems that are associated with abusing bath
salts. Convenience stores, smoke shops, and other stores are able to
sell products like Spice, Happy Shaman, K2 and other products legally.
The side effects of these products mirror the adverse effects of bath
Addressing this issue, as we did with bath salts has proven to be a more
difficult task. Synthetic cannabinoids was 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 mimicked
the after effect of how "cannabinoid receptors" react when smoking or
ingesting marijuana. His formula was published in the Journal of Bioor-
ganic and Medicinal Chemistry and it didn't take long for underground
chemists began creating their own compounds for sale.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has recently banned the manufacture,
distribution, dispensing of several of Huffman's compounds, JWH-018,
JWH-073, JWH-200, however, as mentioned above, Huffman and his team
created over 400 compounds. Although it is positive that the DEA has
made the steps to ban these compounds, manufacturers are circumventing
the law by switching and using different variations of the compounds
when producing their product. To give an example of how this ban is
easily circumvented, one manufacturer and distributor of incense states
on its website that it is DEA compliant.
Further, this has become a problem for states because banning an item or
putting it on the controlled substance list requires knowing the chemi-
cal compound of such item. With nearly 400 compounds or more in exist-
ence, this has created challenges for many states, including New York.
Because of this, states, such as Colorado, have looked at banning those
chemical compounds that produce the same effect on a person's cannabi-
noid receptors. As stated earlier, it would not ban those products or
chemical compounds that were approved for medical use under the United
States Food and Drug Administration. The Governor of Colorado signed
this legislation into law on June 2, 2011.
This legislation follows the path taken in Colorado by banning those
products that produce the same effect on a person's cannabinoid recep-
tors, 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