NY Expands Efforts Against Synthetic Cannabinoids

"These extremely dangerous and deadly substances are wreaking havoc in communities across the state, and we are stepping up efforts to ensure these drugs remain off the streets and out of our correctional facilities," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced April 12 a statewide plan to combat synthetic cannabinoids that includes prevention, education, treatment, and community engagement efforts, seeking to raise awareness of its dangers and to provide additional guidance to health care providers on effective treatment and recovery services.

"These extremely dangerous and deadly substances are wreaking havoc in communities across the state, and we are stepping up efforts to ensure these drugs remain off the streets and out of our correctional facilities," Cuomo said. "With these new initiatives we can further educate the public on the dangers of these drugs while also continuing to ensure that those who bring this scourge into our communities will be held fully accountable."

The state is launching K-2 Listening Forums in communities that have been affected by synthetic cannabinoid abuse, including New York City and Syracuse. The forums will include state representatives from the Department of Health, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Mental Health, State Police, Division of Criminal Justice Services, Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, State Liquor Authority, New York State Gaming Commission, and Department of Tax and Finance, as well as synthetic cannabinoid experts, community-based organizations, family representatives, people in recovery, and local government and law enforcement officials.

In addition, the Department of Health, Office of Mental Health, and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services have issued joint guidance to health care providers, hospitals, off-campus emergency departments, substance use disorder and mental health agencies, and local health departments to provide information on the risk indicators of synthetic cannabinoid intoxication and addiction and offer guidance for diagnosis and treatment.

Cuomo first banned synthetic cannabinoids in 2012 through regulations empowering the Health Commissioner to close down stores where the drugs were sold. In 2015, he added two additional classes of compounds to the banned substances list, changes that were unanimously approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council.

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