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Deadly K2 Has Made its Way Into the Southern Tier ‎Most Recently in the Binghamton Area & Synthetic Drug Makers Have Been Step Ahead Of Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) For Years—Cooking Up New Chemicals As Old Ones Are Made Illegal 

Schumer’s Legislation Would Make 22 Chemicals—Including Powerful Variants of Fentanyl—Illegal, Allowing Feds To Play Essential Catch Up 

Schumer: We Need A Federal Hammer To Nail ‘K2’ Down Before It Spreads Even More

During a visit to Schuyler County, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced new legislation that would make nearly two dozen synthetic substances, including dangerous forms of fentanyl, illegal Schedule I drugs. Schumer said that synthetic drugs like K2 are popping up in the Finger Lakes and Schuyler County and are often made to seem inviting and harmless. However, they are dangerous chemical concoctions that falsely advertise to users, especially young people, sometimes inducing zombie-like symptoms – and worse. Schumer explained that this legislation helps combat the chemists who cook up batches of synthetics from China and other places, and he said this bill should swiftly pass. Schumer said the DEA has been playing catch up for too long when it comes to combating these dangerous drugs and that states need a federal hammer to nail the scourge that these drugs bring to cities.  

“These dangerous, often deadly substances, leave our emergency rooms bulging with stupefied users with zombie-like symptoms – and this is a sign of what’s to come if Congress doesn’t act quickly,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “We need a federal hammer to nail these toxic concoctions of synthetic drugs before things get worse. This federal legislation will ban 22 synthetic drugs, including powerful forms of fentanyl, crippling the unlawful chemists cooking up these drugs and the cartels that push them to our local stores and streets. Banning these drugs quickly will help the feds step up their game of whack-a-mole so that we can help stem the tide of synthetic drug use here in New York State and across the country.”

Over the last several months, Finger Lakes and Southern Tier residents, from Penn Yan and Watkins Glen, to Elmira and Binghamton, have been hospitalized after using synthetic drugs, including fentanyl. In February, three Schuyler County residents were arrested for possessing Fentanyl, among other drugs. In March, a West Elmira resident overdosed with various substances, including pills laced with Fentanyl, a location later determined to be a hot-spot for the sale of illegal substances to high school-aged students. In June, two Yates County residents died of suspected Fentanyl overdoses. Broome County law enforcement also responded to five separate cases of overdoses due to synthetic marijuana in just one night in June. Finally, just this past week, a convenience store in Binghamton was shut down after NY State police seized packets of synthetic drugs. Schumer said these incidents provide evidence of a growing problem in the Southern Tier.

Despite efforts to limit synthetic drugs, synthetic marijuana and other hazardous drug-like products continue to be sold at local bodegas or on the internet. Synthetic drugs are often a toxic combination of chemicals made to mimic 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, synthetic drugs can be extremely dangerous and addictive, with health effects ranging from fast heartbeat and high blood pressure, to nausea, vomiting, seizures, intense hallucinations, psychotic episodes and suicidal thoughts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic uses can even lead to psychosis. A new CDC report released on July 15 says that synthetic cannabinoids are two to 100 times more potent that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

Schumer is therefore urging Congress to pass the “Dangerous Synthetic Drug Control Act of 2016,” (S.3224) which would reduce the availability of the synthetic drugs chemists use to make K2 and other dangerous synthetics. Schumer said this bill adds 22 synthetic substances to Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Eleven of these substances are synthetic cannabinoids, often marketed as K2 or Spice. These substances are usually misleadingly referred to as synthetic marijuana, because they are designed to mimic the effects of THC.  However, Schumer said the side effects of these chemicals are far more dangerous. Three of these substances are derivatives of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid estimated to be 100 times more powerful than morphine. Fentanyl and its derivatives have been associated with numerous overdoses in recent years. The DEA has temporarily scheduled seven of the 22 substances as imminent hazards to the public safety. However, Schumer explained that, further action must be taken to permanently protect the public and that’s why Congress should pass this bill.

Schumer was joined by Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary; Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker; Steuben County Undersheriff James Allard; Watkins Glen Village Police Chief Thomas Struble; along with representatives from the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office, Chemung County DA’s office, and the Chemung County Sheriff’s office.

“I applaud Senators Schumer and Grassley for being on the forefront of public safety when it comes to synthetic drugs like K2 and Spice.  These chemically altered herbs and compounds are as dangerous, if not more, than any illegal substances that have been sold on the streets in our neighborhoods for the last 50 years.  These compounds are being manufactured in makeshift labs by people with little, if any, scientific background for the sole purpose of profiting from the addictions of others and avoiding the drug laws of our country.   Adding these compounds to the federal ban list can only enhance public safety and will give law enforcement a greater tool to combat the surge of overdoses from these toxic and deadly drugs.  Punishing illegal traffickers of these lethal substances is a must and this legislation will help make that possible,” said Schuyler County District Attorney Joe Fazzary.

Schumer has long supported measures to crackdown on synthetic marijuana use across the country. Schumer explained that, between the years 2009 and 2012, synthetic drug abuse was on the rise. In response, Schumer fought hard in Congress to pass the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act of 2012 that banned many forms of these chemicals and enhanced DEA authority to ban new ones that emerge. As part of the legislation, Congress used its legislative authority to place over 20 chemical compounds that had been used in synthetic marijuana and other synthetic drugs into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the classification for the most dangerous drugs. The legislation gave the DEA enhanced authority to temporarily place uncontrolled substances that pose an imminent hazard to public safety, like these synthetic chemicals, into Schedule I of the CSA.