A multi-agency comprehensive plan to combat synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K-2, was launched on Friday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The initiative includes prevention, education, treatment and community engagement efforts as part of Gov. Cuomo’s efforts to add several synthetic cannabinoids to the state’s controlled substance list.
Synthetic cannabinoids are part of a group of drugs called new psychoactive substances. These substances are unregulated, mind-altering substances sold in colorful foil packages and plastic bottles, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The chemicals are called cannabinoids because of their similarity to chemicals found in the marijuana plant. Due to the similarity, synthetic cannabinoids are sometimes misleadingly called synthetic marijuana and marketed as safe, legal alternatives. However, according to the institute, they are not safe and may affect the brain more powerfully than marijuana, with actual effects unpredictable and possibly life-threatening.
For years, these synthetics were available for purchase in drug paraphernalia shops, novelty stores, gas stations and online.
Gov. Cuomo first banned synthetic cannabinoids in 2012 through emergency regulations to close down stores where the drugs were sold.
In 2015, he added two additional classes of compounds to the banned substances list, and in 2016, the state stepped up statewide enforcement efforts to ensure that businesses fully comply with all applicable laws, including the 2012 emergency regulations banning the manufacture, sale and distribution of 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 correctional facilities,” Gov. Cuomo stated in a news release.
“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.”
In communities across the state, the release stated K-2 listening forums will be held to increase public awareness about the dangers and its association with mental health and substance abuse issues. The forums will include state representatives from the Department of Health, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Mental Health and others, as well as synthetic cannabinoid experts and local law enforcement.
The state is also launching a targeted public awareness and education campaign focused on educating vulnerable populations about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, such as high school and college students in at-risk locations throughout the state.
In addition, the state will be working to remove K-2 from correctional facilities and providing clinical guidance for medical professionals.
The “fork” ratings are based primarily on food quality and preparation, with service and atmosphere factored into the final decision. Reviews are based on one unsolicited, unannounced visit to the restaurant.