Legislator Testa Co-Sponsors Legislation to Ban Synthetic Marijuana

SpiceK2.jpgLegislator David Tubiolo (Yonkers-Mount Vernon) has proposed a Local law which would ban the sale or possession of  chemical compounds known as synthetic marijuana in Westchester County.  Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (Cortlandt-Peekskill-Yorktown) is co- sponsoring the Act which was taken up for discussion on February 13, 2017 in the Board of Legislators (BOL) Legislation Committee. The substance is generally known as K2 or Spice, but is found under various names and deceptive packaging.

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Synthetic Marijuana can be found in stores under various names and packaging, including being sold as incense or potpourri.

The Legislation Committee, of which Legislator Testa is a member, received feedback from members of law enforcement including Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth and representatives of both the Yonkers and Mount Vernon Police Departments. Both County and municipal law enforcement representatives voiced support for the proposed law and reported frequent interactions with individuals under the influence of synthetic marijuana who were “zombie-like”, irrational, violent or suicidal. They also reported that these incidents are on the rise. Because of its inexpensive cost, the negative impacts are seen disproportionately among young teems and in low-income areas. Westchester County Consumer Protection Commissioner Mark Fang also participated at the Committee meeting, indicating his Department’s support for the measure.

The Local Law would be implemented by amending the “Consumer Protection Code” to include a new Article XXIV entitled “Synthetic Cannabinoids” in relation to restricting the sale and possession of synthetic drugs. The law would be enforced through both local Police and the County’s Department of Consumer Protection. The civil penalties proposed for violators include a $500 fine for the first offense and $1000 for a second offense. The extent of criminal penalties is still under discussion.

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Emergency response to four people sickened by synthetic marijuana in While Plains in 2016.

Westchester’s law seeks to broaden the definition of synthetic drugs to avoid the “cat and mouse game” of slightly altering the chemical composition of the drug to circumvent local laws which producers have employed in the past.

Legislator David Tubiolo is Chair of the Seniors and Constituencies Committee which has oversight of the County’s Youth Bureau. “Synthetic marijuana is a serious and dangerous problem from both a public health and law enforcement perspective. Because of the inconsistent nature of the chemical compounds used, it is impossible to predict how the drug will affect the user and how severe those affects might be. This is especially dangerous for our kids who are the prime target of synthetic drug suppliers. The drug is generally marketed in brightly colored packages featuring familiar cartoon characters. There could not be a more innocent looking product which hides potentially deadly effects.” Tubiolo said.  “I believe that properly crafted legislation implemented through the coordinated efforts of law enforcement and our Consumer Protection Department can go a long way toward eradicating this addictive and deadly poison in our communities.”Scooby Snax.jpg

Legislator John Testa, the Co-Sponsor of the Law said, “Synthetic drugs are a uniquely dangerous and fast spreading phenomenon. The obvious threat to public health, especially that of our kids should be enough to keep it off store shelves but for sellers who are willing to put profits over moral responsibility, this Legislation will ensure that their profits dry up through severe financial penalties and potential criminal charges.” Testa added, “I spent my professional career as a public High School Teacher and I can see that the danger and accessibility of these synthetic drugs poses a threat to our youth that we must address now and at every level of government. I hope that our Legislation here in Westchester County can serve as a template for local, regional and state governments to use in battling this critical problem.”

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Legislators discuss synthetic drug ban with law enforcement and Consumer Affairs officials during the Legislation Committee meeting on February 13, 2017.

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About Legislator John G. Testa

John G. Testa, a life-long resident of Peekskill, began his first term on the Westchester County Legislature in January 2010. Prior to his successful run for the District 1 Legislative seat, he served 3 terms as Mayor of Peekskill from January 2002 until December 2007. Before becoming mayor he also served a four-year term as a Councilman. From his first days in office Testa worked tirelessly to set the City on the path of economic stability. Peekskill flourished under this plan, increasing the city fund balance to its highest in history. During John’s tenure in office, the NY State Comptroller’s Office named Peekskill one of the most fiscally sound municipalities in the State; independent auditors proclaimed Peekskill as being in its best fiscal condition in over 30 years; and Moody’s Investor Service agreed to upgrade its bond rating, resulting in further savings. The plan he put in place was so successful that it enabled the City of Peekskill to pass three budgets in a row with a 0% tax increase. These fiscal skills will prove valuable to Testa as he works to put the brakes on what has been wildly escalating county spending and unchecked government growth. He has pledged his efforts to work to consolidate services, eliminate wasteful spending and improve efficiency. In addition to the fiscal conservatism that served Peekskill so well, Testa worked to promote the city, attracting investment, jobs and an increased tax base. Over $100 million of private investment came to Peekskill in the forms of new residential construction, retail space, and the redevelopment of historic structures. As Mayor, Testa led a successful battle to stop the unfair and unsafe plan to send sewage to the Peekskill plant from outside the sewage/water district. John’s roots are deep within the soil of Northern Westchester. His father’s family has lived here for more than a century and his mother’s family is nearing that mark. He is proud that he was born in Peekskill and has lived and worked here all his life and, with his wife Nancy raised their two children here.
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One Response to Legislator Testa Co-Sponsors Legislation to Ban Synthetic Marijuana

  1. Lolly Yacker-Winderbaum says:

    I think it would be wise to ban synthetic marijuana. Keep me informed Lolly lollyyacker@optonline.net

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