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New York Lawmakers Push For National Ban On Synthetic Marijuana

Sen. Schumer Says Product Makers Skirt The Law By Tweaking Ingredients

MELVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s known as incense or potpourri, but it’s not the kind you use to make a room smell nice.

It’s an herbal mixture that’s being smoked for a high, and getting many people sick. Now, as CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, there’s a new effort to get it banned.

It looks like marijuana and it’s smoked like marijuana, but its legal, packaged under names like potpourri, Spice and Legal Phunk, and sold at a smoke shop near you. Its herbs are laced with chemicals that produce a legal — and some say –dangerous high.

“They’re toxic chemicals. You want to know what this feels like? Go under your sink and take out caustic chemicals. That’s what kids are doing day in and day out,” said Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Reynolds said users have no idea what they’re smoking because ingredients aren’t listed on packs and side effects are alarming.

“Seizures and anxiety attacks, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts, and those are just some of the symptoms we know about,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

It’s why Rice joined Sen. Charles Schumer on Monday to push for a national ban on so-called “synthetic marijuana.” Schumer said makers now skirt the law by tweaking the ingredients.

“They move a hydrogen atom from here to here or a carbon atom from there to there. It has the exact same effect as marijuana, but it’s not technically outlawed as marijuana,” Sen. Schumer said.

On Long Island, where some smoke shops are selling $1,000 worth a day, buyers say they like the high because it lasts longer and isn’t detected on drug tests.

One buyer didn’t want CBS 2 to show his face on camera.

“When you’re trying to enjoy your day, you don’t want to worry about getting arrested,” the buyer said.

But lawmakers said that’s the problem — marijuana masquerading as something safer. It may not be long before they are taken off store shelves. A ban has passed the House and is pending in the Senate.

Despite warnings the products are more popular than ever. There were 7,000 calls to poison control centers nationwide last year involving synthetic marijuana — double the number from the year before.

Do you think this is a good idea or an example of the government interfering? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

  • Mike

    That’s not all products at all! There are some products that make people relax and have a good time. Now there are these other big companies are messing everything up by adding bad chemicals to it! That should be the ban! Hey why not just ban beer, vodka, cigs and all those male pills out there? I can guarantee you that by next year or two one of the big tobacco companies will come out with similar products!!! This is just a game to make the small companies out! And guess what Marlboro is indeed coming out with a product that looks similar the herbal packaging, I wonder what is really happening and who is pushing what?
    This is all about money and the big leagues. I smoke herbal incense yes I do but not the ones with chemicals, I make my own and I relax on it. I don’t drink no more, I don’t smoke cigs no more nor marijuana.
    But this is straight politics and elections. There are other stuff legal that has killed and still legal as long as the money is going to uncle sam.

  • Someone who cares

    it’s not marijuana get that through your thick heads. it’s chopped up plant matter that has been sprayed and dryed for later smoking to give you a “high”. Marijuana aka Cannabis is a natural plant with therapeutic uses that are actually beneficial to the body. This synthetic stuff is not therapeutic and each one has it’s own type of chemicals sprayed onto them which can be deadly to the body.

    All in all this prohibition on a natural plant has driven organizations to create something similar to cannabis. Ironic how prohibtion is supposed to protect people from harm. Legalize Cannabis please.

  • Tracy Wilson

    It’s about time they get this crap out of gas stations & convenience stores where people are able to buy it legally. I’ve seen firsthand what it can do. This stuff is bad news. One thing in the article I disagree with is Sen. Schumer saying “it has the exact same effect as marijuana”…not true, this synthetic, chemical laced, toxic junk is inherently more dangerous than naturally-grown marijuana. Just sayin’…


    Stop making money off of the “marijuana plant” arrest n make what GOD created legall! Check Genesis 1:11-12…

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