Lawmakers in New York Call on Online Retailers to Ban the Sale of Synthetic Marijuana

Lawmakers in New York Call on Online Retailers to Ban the Sale of Synthetic Marijuana

State and local lawmakers in New York on Thursday called on eBay, Craigslist, and other retailers to stop selling synthetic marijuana, or K2, with one lawmaker saying the drug is leaving the streets full of “zombies.”

“The Internet has become a virtual ­bodega and a chemist’s warehouse,” state Sen. Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, said at a Manhattan press conference. “These are things that we can find in grocery stores and bodegas around our city, and now you can actually get them delivered to your front door.”

Klein and other lawmakers have teamed up to send a letter to the CEOs of a number of Internet retailers, asking them to remove ads for K2 and keep a better eye on their classified ads. [1]

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, called the substance “a dangerous, unpredictable and illegal substance” and said that “for too long unscrupulous stores and online marketplaces have profited.” Mark-Vivierito heads ups the war against K2 in her community of East Harlem.

Under a bill proposed by Klein, the penalty for selling K2 would increase from $500 to $2,000 for the first offense, and to $5,000 for the second. [2]

Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj (D-Bronx) said, “Our city streets are ­being taken over by zombies from a scene in ‘The Walking Dead.’ We cannot look the other way.”

K2 is a cheap drug for people looking to get a high. One joint of the potent-but-fake marijuana costs a mere dollar or two. By comparison, a “real” joint costs about $5. In New York City, dozens of people at a time arrive by bus from shelters to come to heroin recovery clinics and get high on K2 instead. There, these addicts engage in bizarre behavior or stare glassy-eyed at nothing. [2]

Read: How Synthetic Marijuana is a Serious Problem in Major Cities

Synthetic marijuana is a huge problem for law enforcement because it gives users superhuman strength and makes them oblivious to pain. It can also morph people into monsters. Last September, Timothy Ray Jones Jr., of South Carolina, allegedly murdered his five children while he was high on K2. After, Jones drove for several days throughout several states with his deceased children in plastic bags in his car. [3]

The drug is basically a bag of herbs sprayed with cannabinoid chemicals that work like an especially potent type of marijuana. The substance also goes by the names Scooby Snax, AK-47 and Spice.

It apparently wasn’t supposed to be this way. John W. Huffman, the chemist behind the “weaponized marijuana,” ‘never intended the substance to become a recreational drug.’ The now-reclusive, 83-year-old man developed the compounds in Spice to study how the human brain works. He did not expect that the government would ban 9 of the substances that carry his initials, JWH.

Huffman said he didn’t even know his inventions were being used to get people high until a German blogger sent him an article in 2008 describing Spice. [4]

“I thought it was sort of hilarious at the time,” Huffman. “Then I started hearing about some of the bad results, and I thought, ‘Hmm, I guess someone opened Pandora’s Box.’ ”

Huffman calls recreational K2 users “idiots” and does his best to stay out of the spotlight.

“I don’t want pest calls,” he told the Daily News in August. “I get a number of them that are nut calls. You know, ‘Why did you make the compound that murdered my son?’ and this sort of stuff. I’ve had e-mails like that. There’s a reason I’m so difficult to reach. I want it that way. . . . It’s a nuisance.”


[1] New York Post

[2] The New York Times

[3] ABC News

[4] Daily News

Featured image credit: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES