New York's One Step Closer To Making Fake Weed More Illegal Than Real Weed
The New York State Senate today passed a bill that would make the possession and sale of fake marijuana a crime in the Empire State -- which would make the possession of fake marijuana more illegal than possession of real marijuana.
Real marijuana, as we've mentioned in prior posts about the proposed ban of faux-weed, was decriminalized in New York in 1977 (a marijuana possession ticket in New York is about as serious a violation as a parking ticket). Under the new bill, possession or sale of fake weed would be would be a misdemeanor, with provisions that make certain sales (sale to children or in school zones) class-B felonies.
"Fake pot has real health consequences, as do bath salts and other products that are aggressively being marketed to young people on Long Island and around the State," Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says. "Several journal articles published in the last three months have detailed a wide range of psychiatric symptoms experienced by users including paranoia, hallucinations, delusions and extreme anxiety. Several other journal articles have detailed cases of convulsions, heart attacks and kidney failure in adolescents who, because these substances are legal, often mistakenly believe they are safe."
While fake weed being more illegal than real weed sounds pretty ridiculous, the effects of synthetic weed have proven to be more dangerous than those of the real stuff.
Synthetic weed is herbs sprayed with synthetic canabanoids. Some of the side effects include rapid heart rate, tremors, loss of consciousness and hallucinations. In a few cases -- like that of 26-year-old Aaron Stinson -- smoking synthetic marijuana can be fatal. On the flip side, it's impossible to die from an overdose of real marijuana.
In an attempt to illustrate the dangers of synthetic weed, legislators point to the case of Richard "Psycho" Velazquez, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony counts of assault and strangulation in an attack on a woman and her infant child in Glens Falls. Velazquez, legislators say, slammed the victim's face into a mirror, choked her, and tackled her down a flight of stairs as she held her 7-week-old child. Velazquez claims the synthetic marijuana he and the victim had been smoking prior to the attack directly contributed to his actions. That said, legislators might want to find a better anecdote to illustrate the dangers of synthetic weed than one that references a guy whose nickname is "Psycho." In other words, perhaps "Psycho" is just a psycho who's trying to blame his crime on fake weed.
Governor Andrew Cuomo already has placed an administrative ban on synthetic marijuana (meaning police can confiscate it). If the bill criminalizing fake weed gets to his desk, it seems pretty likely that he'll sign it. Click here to read the full version of the bill.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.