State Law

NY Health Commissioner Bans Synthetic Marijuana

Congratulations to NY Health Commissioner Nirav Shah for banning synthetic marijuana in the state of New York. This is the order he issued.

This is an action that should help protect the health of all New Yorkers–users and non-users alike.

This drug is not only dangerous to those who smoke it, it is also dangerous to innocent bystanders, first responders, and health professionals.

The combination of psychosis, agitation, and the temporary inability to feel pain are a recipe for danger.

Now, we call for the citizens of NY to keep an eye out for stores who are ignoring this ban.

We must work together to protect our communities from this dangerous substance.


NY bans sale of synthetic marijuana; cites health

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York state has banned the sale of “synthetic marijuana” that’s sold in convenience stores, smoke shops, and tobacco stores under brand names including “Spice”, “K2” and “Mr. Nice Guy.”

The products produces a high when smoked and have been linked to severe adverse reactions including death and acute renal failure. In announcing the ban, Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said they also commonly cause increased heart rates, paranoid behavior, agitation, and nausea, among other symptoms.

Continue reading

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Daughter Claims Synthetic Marijuana Killed her Mother

This is an incredible tragedy.

Another death.  Another grieving family.  Another beautiful life cut short because of synthetic marijuana.

We would like to offer our sincere condolences to Kathleen Gaspar’s family, and pray that justice will be done.

Thank you, Shannon Sheehan, for coming forward, for sharing your story, and for helping us to fight synthetic marijuana.

Your courage and inspiration may have already saved lives.


Fake pot, real risks: Daughter blames synthetic drugs for mother’s death

03/16/2012, 7:53 pm

Steve Stout,, 815-431-4082

Following a family tragedy last fall, Shannon Sheehan of Ottawa is on a crusade.

“My mother, Kathleen Gaspar, died last September following a fall inside her Marseilles home,” said Sheehan. “And, although her death certificate says she died of massive head injuries, I am sure it was fake, synthetic pot that took her life.”

Sheehan, 31, a mother of two, wants to spread the word about the “little known dangers of synthetic pot and other drugs” gaining popularity across the state and nation.

Holding a photograph of her mother, 53, Sheehan explained it is her belief her mother smoked synthetic marijuana purchased from a local convenience store, became disoriented (“possibly delusional”) and stumbled around into walls and furniture around the house before finally falling, fatally striking her head. Continue reading

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New Jersey Announces Temporary Ban with Teeth

Well, New Jersey came a little late to this, but New Jersey’s new ban should help get this poison off the shelves in the Garden State.  We will be happy to see a permanent law soon.
Unfortunately, this press release shows a lack of information on the subject of synthetic marijuana.  It reads, “The drug contains a combination of herbs and plant materials that are covered with chemicals that imitate the effects marijuana has on the brain.”
If only this were true.  Synthetic marijuana is MUCH more dangerous than marijuana, and because it is completely unregulated and is not a natural product in any way, we have no idea what is being sprayed on these leaves, or the health effects of those chemicals on those who smoke synthetic marijuana.
It seems that every batch is different; every brand is different; and–in order to stay ahead of the law– the recipes, concocted by “garage chemists,” are constantly changing.
So far we have seen heart attacks, kidney failure, psychosis, suicide, violent behavior, and death.  This is not a drug anyone should take, and certainly not a drug that should be sold over the counter in a gas station as if it were a candy bar.  This is a seriously dangerous drug.
We applaud New Jersey, and look forward to seeing their new law take effect in the next legislative session. Continue reading
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Large Synthetic Pot Sting in NE Pennsylvania

This was no small raid!  Over 70 police officers took part in this take-down of synthetic drug dealers.

We are so proud of the officers for their diligence, for the lawmakers of Pennsylvania who made this possible, for the District Attorney in Lackawanna County for the zeal to prosecute, and to the citizens who complained and reported the presence of synthetic drug dealers operating in their community.

There is no estimate of the amount the seizure was worth, but the police confiscated box after box after box of the poison along with guns and bundles of cash.

The best quote of the story comes from Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney, Robert Klein, who said:

“If anyone out there in Lackawanna County is still selling these products after they see this, let them be on notice. Synthetic cannabinoids and synthetic drugs are illegal in Pennsylvania and they’re not going to be tolerated in Lackawanna County. We will find you, and we will prosecute you.”


Think of how many young lives might have been saved by this one raid.  A brilliant job!   Continue reading

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16 Year Old Georgia Teen Dies After Smoking Synthetic Marijuana

Click for video.

This morning is a somber one, as we read of the death of another teen.  Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.  We know what you are going through.  We have been there too.

There are probably a lot more teens that are dying because of synthetic marijuana than we know because, at this point, most of the coroners are not checking for it–and even if they were checking, they have to know EXACTLY what they are looking for.

In this case, concerned teens let the authorities know what happened to Chase Burnett.  Hopefully his family has samples of the synthetic marijuana he smoked, or his friends know what brand-name he used.  Without this information, the autopsy will probably show no traces of drugs that the coroner would test for.  The product needs to be tested first, then the chemicals in that product must be tested against his blood. Continue reading

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Springfield —Attorney General Lisa Madigan today announced that the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee unanimously sent to the full House an amendment to the Illinois Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act that will help address the synthetic drug epidemic in the state.

“Drug makers’ continued attempts to sell synthetic drugs jeopardize the lives of teens and young adults,” Madigan said. “This bill recognizes that chemicals sold to be taken as drugs, regardless of what they’re called or their bogus labeling, are life threatening and illegal.”

Madigan said combating the synthetic drug epidemic presents unique challenges for law enforcement and prosecutors because the chemical makeup of the products can be easily altered by manufacturers to avoid violating the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. In addition, these drugs are sold in packages that misleadingly claim the products are legal as confirmed by so-called “official” lab results. Continue reading

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Karen Dobner Reports Back on Emergency Summit

Thank you for being patient while waiting to hear about our trip to the Illinois Emergency Summit on Synthetic Drugs.

After 12 hours sleep, I’m back to work and ready to get to our “Foundation for the Foundation.”

Foundation for the Foundation

We are planning on keeping our activities to a minimum as we focus on a business plan and set a foundation for our foundation.

As part of that effort we have contacted an organization called SCORE to help us make an organized plan for the future, including an educational program, media package, and Public Service Announcement.

The Summit

The Summit was a great meeting of the minds in an effort to formulate a coordinated response to fight back against these dangerous drugs.  I spoke at length about the dangers of synthetic marijuana and how we may address these issues regarding “fake pot” within education and law enforcement to an audience made up of medical professionals, law enforcement, legislators, and the concerned public.

We heard from Scott Albrecht, DEA Special Agent, who was a treasure trove of information on the issue.

He spoke to the DEA’s response to synthetic drugs, enforcement and regulatory challenges.  He gave us a break down on the current situation and how fast it is growing.

Some of the new information he gave us:  there are 400-500 minimum chemicals used in synthetic marijuana.  This is the challenge.

There has never been a drug like synthetic marijuana before.  Of the 400+ chemicals used to produce fake pot, there are only tests for 14 by blood and 5 by urine.  This makes it very difficult to enforce the laws designed to ban these products.

DEA had enforced an emergency ban in March, but they don’t even see 2 of the 5 chemicals they banned.

Some of those who produce these drugs are actually suing each other for trademark infringement.

The chemicals used to produce synthetic marijuana are produced in China and occasionally shipped to a second country, then into the U.S.

My thoughts:  Maybe we need to start addressing this issue at it’s source…China.  There are no other uses for synthetic canabinoids and cathinones other than for the purpose of making these drugs.

Tom McNamara, Commander of the Southern Illinois Enforcement Group, spoke about their successful efforts to fight the meth problem and how it may relate to the synthetic drug issue. They were very successful in getting Meth out of Southern Illinois.  They have a lot of experience in that.

The Synthetic Marijuana problem is similar because, like Meth, synthetic marijuana is a “do it yourself” drug.

The drug dealers are buying the chemicals from China, and they use acetone to “cut” the chemicals.  Then they spray the chemicals onto Damiana leaves, mallow leaves, or other herbs, and “manufacture” the drug in their garages.

Dr. Michael Wahl, Medical Director, Illinois Poison Control, spoke with enthusiasm about the chemical structures of the various analogs.

The doctor gave us the scientific breakdown of the chemicals used to make these “designer drugs.”  We learned new things about the effects of  these drugs.

In particular, we learned about the dopamine causes paranoia in high doses.  We also learned about the bodies inability to control temperature when under the influence of some of these chemicals.  Temperatures can increase to ranges of 107 and above, causing death and/or brain damage.

Joe Bruscato, Winnebego County States’ Attorney, spoke about how they conducted the recent busts in Rockford.  

He spearheaded a recent sting operation against Rockford (Winnebago County) gas stations and convenience stores.  He spoke about what law enforcement can do.

He recommended they send letters that their liquor licenses may be in jeopardy.  In the most recent sting, they got lucky because the drug dealers were selling a product that was recently outlawed in Illinois, and they were charged for selling a schedule I substance.

Overall, Sandy McKinney, Vice President of TO THE MAXIMUS foundation, and I were able to make some valuable connections and gained some new insight into the synthetic drug industry and the challenges facing law enforcement.

Categories: Action Needed, First Person Stories, Information about Synthetic Marijuana, State Law | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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