The growing outbreak of use of synthetic drugs, sometimes called bath salts, has led to widespread police action to put a halt to sales. YNN's Bill Carey says a new effort is underway in Onondaga County to try to limit use.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- What has worried authorities from the start of the synthetic drug explosion is the marketing of the products. They point to names, packaging and advertising slogans as being aimed at young people.
Now, Onondaga County lawmakers are ready to launch a new education plan in local schools, designed to steer children away from using so-called bath salts.
“And if we can get to one child, if we can get to one family and we can prevent that one family or that one child from being impacted, then this project is a big success,” said Onondaga County legislator Patrick Kilmartin.
A panel of health and education leaders will help craft the plan. They know it will need to thread a needle. Putting out information, while trying not to encourage young people to experiment.
“This product is nowhere near safe. Just because it's over the counter doesn't make it safe. And to let them know some of the symptoms are, related to this. Hopefully, without having to use a scare tactic, to let them know, realistically, what could possibly happen to you. And they're very dangerous drugs,” said Gail Banach, Education Director at Upstate New York Poison Center.
And while education may help prevent use, lawmakers are also preparing to crack down on the criminal front. A new bill is being drafted to give police agencies more tools to battle sales.
“The bill's going to be a local law that, essentially, outlaws the sale of numerous substances and numerous compounds. Right now we're finalizing. We have a law that's ready now. We're talking to other law enforcement experts to see if we should put more compounds in the law,” said Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon.
There is also discussion of provisions adding penalties for possession of the drugs.
The county legislature is hoping to take up all this legislation sometime in the month of August. The education component, in particular. They're hoping to have it in place in time for the start of the new school year.
Bath salts emerged quickly as a problem. It's now become a race against time for the official response.
The City of Syracuse is also poised to take new action against bath salts. City lawmakers are already at work drafting their own version of a bill to outlaw sale and possession of the synthetic drugs.