Syracuse, N.Y. — The Syracuse Common Council voted unanimously today to make the sale or possession of synthetic drugs a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The council voted 8-0 to approve what Councilor-at-large Jean Kessner called “a stop-gap” measure necessary until the state Legislature bans the drugs statewide. The council also voted 8-0 to ask the state Legislature to approve a statewide ban.
“We’re waiting for leadership from the state,” said Kessner.
District 3 Councilor Bob Dougherty said he did not believe the law will stop people from using the drugs, noting that people still use cocaine, marijuana and other substances that have long been criminalized. However, he said he reluctantly voted for the ban because most of his constituents favored it.
“I’m kind of a voice in the wind,” said Dougherty.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she will sign the ordinance.
The legislation introduced by Kessner comes in the wake of numerous bizarre incidents by individuals in Central New York suspected of being high on synthetic drugs, commonly called “bath salts” and “water.” The drugs have developed a reputation for making users paranoid and violent.
In the past month, law enforcement officers raided a handful of head shops in Central New York that were accused of selling products marketed as glass cleaner and incense that contained synthetic drugs. Workers at the stores told customers how to use the products to get high, according to law enforcement authorities.
Syracuse’s proposed local ordinance defines synthetic drugs as any product, whether described as tobacco, potpourri, herbs, incense, spice, aromatics, bath salts, synthetic marijuana, synthetic stimulant, or any combination, that contains more than a dozen specified chemical substances, and which has a stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic effect on people.
Contact Rick Moriarty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-3148.
Here’s the proposed ordinance that councilors passed: