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Can Nuisance Abatement Cut Down on Synthetic Drug Sales in Syracuse?

  Syracuse Police got one more way today to go after the stores that sell synthetic marijuana and other designer drugs...using a law originally meant to cut down on noise and petty crime.  The Common Council approved expanding the Nuisance Abatement law to include synthetic cannabinoids...and phenethylamines.  Councilor Pam Hunter say a spike in calls for people using these substances is creating a safety hazard for first responders. 

“Officers and ambulances are being deployed to locations where people are high on this synthetic marijuana, to the extent that officers become injured, EMS personnel are being injured.  It’s come to the point where they need something else in their toolkit in order to crack down and say to these corner stores that are selling it, to say, ‘No More.’”

The way the nuisance abatement law works is, stores face escalating fines for the first three times they’re caught for this or other public nuisance infractions.  After that the city can actually seize and shut down the store.  Hunter is hearing that these materials are showing up on store shelves, luring in youth and others.

“Nicely packaged, look like candy, wrapped synthetic marijuana items to people walking in.  We don’t want them in our corner stores; we don’t want them on our streets; we want it gone and this will help them (police).”

The council passed a companion measure that explicitly makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute or possess any of the synthetic marijuana compounds.  Two weeks ago D-A Bill Fitzpatrick was joined by other law enforcement and health officials to highlight the increase in these drugs, as well as a jump in emergency room visits for people suffering unexpected effects from them.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.