AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) - Governor Andrew Cuomo is adding a new weapon to the war on drugs arsenal.
Bath salts are known to cause violent and bizarre behavior and the consequences can be deadly. Governor Cuomo was joined Tuesday by local and state law enforcement to announce the new Health Department regulations to crack down on bath salts and other synthetic drugs.
"It is poison. It is a new face on a very old enemy. It's an enemy that we fought decade after decade. The enemy is drugs," said Cuomo.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita says he wants to see it off the streets.
"The new regulations expand the list of prohibited drugs and chemicals to include dozens more substances that are now used to make synthetic drugs, ensuring that distributors can no longer skirt the law by modifying the drugs," Sedita noted.
Now, for the first time, owners of establishments and employees selling synthetic drugs can be charged with possession of an illicit substance.
NYS Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said, "These drugs often produce behavior such as suicidal tendencies, paranoia and other forms of erratic, violent or aggressive actions."
Hoping to raise awareness, Brandi Smith of Batavia talked about her brother Jason, who she says is addicted to synthetic drugs.
"He had everything, and he now has nothing. Everything he's ever owned, he has pawned. He owns nothing. He has sold every belonging that he has in order to buy bath salts and get high," Smith said.
MORE | Smith and her mother led a campaign to close a Batavia store allegedly selling the illegal drug to Jason. They succeeded when the Attorney General cracked down on multiple stores allegedly selling the banned substance.
State health officials say the use of these drugs has risen to an alarming rate.
NYS Health Department Dr. Gregory Young said, "In 2011, there were 39 reported emergency department visits in upstate New York as a result of bath salts alone. In 2012, to date, there have been 191 visits, with a 120 occurring in the last two months."
The state has set up a new toll-free hotline for residents to report illegal activity involving bath salts or synthetic drugs: 1-888-997-2587
You can also find more information on synthetic drugs and bath salts by following this link.
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