WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. From the Governor’s Press Office. January 4, 2017:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that two men in the City of Newburgh were arrested and charged with illegally selling synthetic marijuana and violating state tax law.
The arrests and charges that were made are part of a series of statewide enforcement actions that have resulted in an increased police presence to combat the illegal sale of K2 in communities throughout New York.
“Make no mistake: K2 and other synthetic drugs are dangerous and a risk to public health and safety,” Governor Cuomo said. “Selling this poison is illegal and this administration will continue to do everything in its power to get K2 off the streets and hold accountable those who continue to break the law.”
Under current law, an owner of an establishment, as well as any other person possessing, distributing, selling or offering prohibited synthetic marijuana for sale, will face a fine up to $500 and/or up to 15 days in jail. Civil penalties include a fine up to $2,000 per violation.
Synthetic marijuana is marketed as legal and typically consists of plant material coated by chemicals, which are supposed to mimic THC, the active chemical compound in naturally grown marijuana.
The drugs are marketed as incense, herbal mixtures, or potpourri in order to mask their true purpose. Brand names for substances include Spice, K2, Green Giant, Smacked, Wicked X, AK-47, Geeked Up, Ninja, Caution, Red Giant, Scooby Snax, and Keisha Kole.
The New York State Police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team – Hudson Valley, working in conjunction with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, the New York State Department of Health, City of Newburgh Police Department, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Friday seized 111 packets of suspected synthetic marijuana from Manhattan Deli, located at 212 Broadway in Newburgh. The location was also found to have forged cigarette tax stamps, unstamped cigarettes, marijuana, and illegal possession of a weapon.
Samples of the seized products were analyzed by the Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany, and tested positive for 5-fluoro-ADB, FUB-PB-22, XLR-11, NM2201, AB-CHIMINACA and MMB-FUBINACA, six synthetic cannabinoids as defined in Section 9.1 of Title 10 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York.
Following the lab tests, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker immediately moved to close the store.
Hemyar M. Almaflehi, 28, of Walden and the owner of the store, was charged with Criminal Possession Forged Instrument 1st Degree (forged cigarette tax stamps), a Class C Felony; Possession of Unstamped Cigarettes for Purpose of Sale, a Misdemeanor under state tax law; Criminal possession of marihuana 5th degree, a Class B Misdemeanor; Unlawful Possession of Marihuana, a Violation; and 111 counts of violations of the Department of Health regulation banning the possession of synthetic cannabinoid substances.
Omar Nagi, 22, of Newburgh and a clerk at the store, was charged with Criminal Possession Forged Instrument 1st Degree (forged cigarette tax stamps), a Class C Felony; Possession of Unstamped Cigarettes for Purpose of Sale, a Misdemeanor under state tax law; Criminal Possession of Marihuana 5th Degree, a Class B Misdemeanor; Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th Degree, a Misdemeanor; three counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon 4th Degree, a Misdemeanor; and 111 counts of violations of the Department of Health regulation banning the possession of synthetic cannabinoid substances.
State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “I want to commend the outstanding work done on this case by our Community Narcotics Enforcement Team, along with our state and local partners. Synthetic Cannabinoids are dangerous substances which have damaging impacts to a user’s health as well as to our communities as a whole. We will continue to work with our partners to crack down on the sale of these illegal drugs.”
Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “Synthetic drugs continue to pose a threat to the health and safety of all New Yorkers. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the Department is working collaboratively with other state agencies to not only educate the public of the dangers of these substances, but take aggressive steps to eliminate them from our communities.”
New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Synthetics have no purpose other than to cause harm. I applaud Governor Cuomo, the State Police and our other State agency partners for their continued efforts to remove these poisons from our streets.”
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said, “The Orange County District Attorney’s Office will use every means at our disposal to prevent businesses from endangering the public and encouraging addiction through the sale of synthetic drugs. I agree with the Governor that this problem must be addressed both by enforcement of criminal laws and by action through regulatory authorities. I thank the New York State Police and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for their work on this investigation.”
Lieutenant Richard Carrion of the Newburgh Police Department said, “The City of Newburgh Police greatly appreciates the support we receive from our local and state law enforcement partners. Drugs, including new synthetic drugs, destroy the fabric of communities and are a major contributor to the violence that affects the safety of our citizens. We look forward to the continued partnerships that can help us keep our city safe.”
Last July, New York stepped up statewide enforcement efforts to ensure that businesses fully comply with all applicable laws, including the 2012 emergency regulations banning the manufacture, sale, and distribution of synthetic marijuana.
Additionally, the Governor directed that the Department of Health’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the State Liquor Authority and the New York State Gaming Commission increase their oversight efforts and revoke store owners’ liquor and lottery licenses if they are found to be illegally peddling K2. The State continues to vigorously pursue all available civil, criminal, and administrative remedies against any business or business owner found to be manufacturing, possessing for sale or selling illegal synthetic marijuana.