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Brooklyn BP Wants Stricter Synthetic Marijuana Laws

Brooklyn BP Wants Stricter Synthetic Marijuana Laws [Photo: Rebecca Lewis, WFUV]

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Brooklyn officials are calling for stricter laws about synthetic marijuana in New York City. They say the drug known as K2 is easily accessible and can be extremely harmful to users.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said K2 can be easily bought at bodegas. He said even though there's a fine if the owner gets caught, many sell the drug anyway.

"Store owners are weighing the fine in comparison to the volume of sale. And the fine of $250... the threat of the fine is not strong enough and they're willing to take the risk," Adams said at a press conference Tuesday.

Brooklyn resident Della Ellis said she had just moved into a shelter when she first smoked K2. She said it was just $5 at a local bodega. Ellis said she's been clean for eight months, but she had no idea she would become addicted in the first place.

"The funny thing about it is when I started smoking, I smoked for fun... but I didn't know the effects that it was doing to my body. So I kept smoking and I finally got sick off of it and I winded [sic] up in the emergency room," Ellis said.

Some health officials have compared the effects of K2 to pouring battery acid into your brain. And according the Adams, emergency room visits related to synthetic drug use increased by 220% in 2014. That's why he's calling to increase the penalty to stores selling K2.

Adams is also calling to broaden the law about K2. Right now, there's a loophole that allows people who make synthetic drugs to tweak the chemical formula and get around controlled substance laws. But Adams says new laws should cover any synthetic drug marketed as K2 regardless of the specific chemical makeup.

"We should focus more on what it does and why it's harmful to a person's body instead of the chemical makeup of a particular substance," Adams said.

The City Council is planning to introduce legislation cracking down on synthetic marijuana soon.