New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Tuesday she planned to introduce legislation to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana, responding to what she said was a crisis on city streets and in homeless shelters.
“This is a concern that’s growing, we’re trying to get a handle on it,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said a news conference near City Hall.
The sale and use of the drug, known as K2, isn’t illegal in New York City. But city officials say they are concerned by a rise in violence and hospital visits linked to the drug.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone found guilty of selling K2 or an imitation drug would face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000, which would increase to $25,000 for subsequent violations. Ms. Mark-Viverito said the measure would be proposed early next month.
Stores selling the drug would face prosecution. Owners also could lose their licenses to sell to tobacco.
City officials say the intersection of East 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in East Harlem—in Ms. Mark-Viverito’s district—is at the heart of the K2 crisis in New York City. The speaker lead a walking tour of the area with other city officials in April.
The New York Police Department have carried out at least two sting operations there this summer, one in June and the other in July.
“In one deli alone, we seized 8,000 bags of this K2 product,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said.
Ms. Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, also said use of the drug seemed especially prevalent among the city’s shelter residents.
By Mara Gay - The Wallstreet Journal/Aug. 25, 2015
Photo: Spencer Platt