NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to reveal his plan to deal with the homeless and mentally ill on Thursday, and the night before, two neighborhoods that strongly supported the mayor said help cannot come soon enough.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, residents of Harlem said the drug, also known as K2 or Spice, is ruining parts of their neighborhood.
“The mayor needs to do something, because as far as I’m concerned, seeing this all this every day like this – it’s the new heroin, it’s the new crack, and it’s disgusting,” said Harlem resident Billie Holiday.
Holiday could not believe what was happening in the heart of her historic neighborhood. Street people and the homeless in Harlem are seen all around under the influence of synthetic marijuana.
Moments after CBS2 took video of one man, he passed out at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. A paramedic told Aiello he had no doubt the man was wasted on K2.
“It’s eating up their minds,” a woman said. “They’re zombies after that.”
In Harlem Wednesday morning, CBS2’s Ilana Gold found homeless men openly smoking the synthetic drug. One man admitted that he had been smoking K2, and said he got it “off the street.”
Aiello even found a full packet of K2 lying around on Lexington Avenue, and many empties littering the street nearby.
It is illegal for bodegas to sell the drug, but many do so anyway – under the counter.
“This neighborhood is riddled! It’s infested!” said Tracie Stewart of Harlem.
The problem is also seen in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Residents said homeless people at the shelter on Clarkson Avenue get high on K2.
“The ambulance come out there every day and pick up somebody,” said Tomlin Anderson of East Flatbush.
CBS2 found packages of synthetic drugs in a pile of garbage on the property of Kings County Hospital Center.
The NYPD admits use of the drug is a crisis, and while many users enter a catatonic state, a few can turn violent.
In a disturbing video obtained by CBS2, a naked homeless man, said to be under the influence of synthetic marijuana, is seen blocking a Brooklyn school safety vehicle. The man is howling and irrational.
Witnesses to that type of unpredictable behavior describe it as frightening.
“Every time I get off this train I worry about getting harassed by people that use this K2. You can see their violent nature they’re displaying,” one person told CBS2’s Gold.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton sounded the alarm about the drug earlier this week. Police said the drug is taking a toll on the homeless because it is so accessible.
Bodegas illegally sell synthetic marijuana for $5 a packet, according to police.
“It’s laced with chemicals and as fast as we are able to identify the chemicals and get that particular chemical — make it against the law — they change the makeup of it,” Bratton said.