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Congresswoman introduces new bill to battle synthetic marijuana crisis in NYC

September 15, 2016
In The News

 With synthetic marijuana a growing concern in New York City, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn) wants Congress to move on legislation making it easier for the government to crack down on its sale.

After a summer scare where more than 130 New Yorkers were treated for overdoses of the drug in less than a month, Velazquez wants the federal government to do more research into the drug, and spend more money to warn people of its dangers.

"My first concern is that this drug is cheap, that the way it is marketed is it's made out of natural herbs and that is not so, it gives the appearance that it is all kinds of natural plants but in fact it is sprayed, coated with different kinds of chemicals. The users might not know the effect this could cause mentally and physically," Velazquez told the Daily News during an interview in her Capitol Hill office on Thursday.

The drug, known as "K2" and "Spice," isn't really marijuana — nor is it natural or herbal, as it's often marketed. It's an umbrella term for unregulated synthetic chemical cannabinoids that are often sprayed on other plant matter so that the drug physically resembles weed. Because of the ease in buying it (it's been able to slip through legal cracks in the past and be sold at head shops and bodegas by labeling itself "not for human consumption") and its low price, less than one eighth the price of marijuana, it's become popular with homeless people as well as younger people, especially in poorer communities.