"It Is Moving Like Fire Through Dry Grass," Gov. Cuomo Said

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Synthetic drugs such as bath salts are now illegal in New York.

The State Department Of Health issued new regulations for the drugs in an emergency meeting. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the new regulations from his Midtown office Tuesday.

The drugs go by street names such as Cherry Blast, Wow, and Tiger Shark. But Gov. Cuomo has his own name for the synthetic substances.

“My word for this compound is poison,” Cuomo said.

WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports

Now, possessing or selling the drugs is punishable by fines of up $500 and potentially as much as 15 days in jail.

“It is the same enemy we faced before. New face on an old enemy,” the governor said.

State police superintendent Joe D’Amico said the drugs are a public health risk.

“We in law enforcement have seen increasingly violent and vicious attacks from individuals under the effects of these substances,” D’Amico told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

The state has reported a big increase in synthetic drug use. In 2011, there were 39 reported emergency room visits in upstate New York as a result of bath salts. Already in 2012, there have been 191 ER visits because of the drug.

“It is moving like fire through dry grass,” Cuomo said.

Governor Cuomo also announced a new toll-free tipline 1-888-99SALTS (1-888-997-2587). The governor’s office said individuals with information about illegal distribution of bath salts or synthetic drugs are encouraged to call that hotline.

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