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Suffolk County Approves Synthetic Marijuana Ban

Synthetic Marijuana

(Photo: CBS 2)

CBS New York (con't)

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Suffolk County has voted to ban products containing synthetic marijuana from store shelves.

Legislators unanimously approved the measure.

According to Newsday, it updates an existing law that bans the sale of marijuana to minors by removing them from store shelves. It also broadens the definition of “synthetic cannabinoid.”

The synthetic drug, sold under the names of “Legal Phunk,” “Spice,” and other brands, is often disguised as incense or potpourri.

The designer drug mimics the effects of pot. It is usually sold in small packets of approximately 500 milligrams to three grams.

Officials said the packets contain a mix of herbs and plant materials that have been coated with chemical agents that affect the brain.

Synthetic marijuana has been linked to violent seizures, heart attacks and hallucinations.

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.

Officials say the drugs have become extremely popular among youth.

A recent national study found synthetic marijuana is the third most commonly abused drug by high school seniors, after marijuana and prescription drugs.

The law is expected to take effect in about 60 days.

Last month, New Jersey banned the making, possessing or selling of such drugs. Violators face three to five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)