New York state is starting to get some leverage on the synthetic drug problem.
The Department of Health has warned of moderate fines for sellers of synthetic drugs such as bath salts and possible incarceration for users.
Thus, an owner or employee of a store that sells synthetic drugs could be charged with possession of an illegal substance, bringing a fine of up to $500 and possibly 15 days in jail.
That is not much of a punishment, but it is a start.
Meanwhile, Lewis County has voted to ban possession or sale of chemical substances such as synthetic cocaine and marijuana. Violation of the law, a misdemeanor, could bring a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Jefferson County is pondering legislation to forbid their sale and use as well.
Bath salt products have been likened to cocaine and methamphetamine. The bizarre and dangerous behavior of bath salt users has been well documented.
The products have been sold online and at local stores. Making the sales illegal should curtail this business.
Community awareness of such drugs has increased in recent weeks. Samaritan Medical Center told the Times in July that it had treated as many as five cases per day of patients who reacted adversely to bath salts products. The numbers are down now.
Making sales of substances used in bath salts illegal has helped. So have community meetings raising awareness of the problem.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said: Bath salts and other synthetic drugs pose a direct, serious threat to public health and safety, and we must do everything we can to remove these harmful substances from sale and distribution in New York.
He said the states new approach would help law enforcement pursue violators of the new rules, expand the list of banned substances and make those who sell the drugs accountable.
Actions on the federal, state and local levels are having an impact.