New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced new regulations to expand the existing list of prohibited drugs and chemicals used to make synthetic drugs.
Under the new rules, possessing or selling synthetic drugs is punishable by fines of up to $500, and potentially as much as 15 days in jail, CBSNewYork reports. The state has seen a jump in emergency room visits related to synthetic drugs, from 39 in 2011, to 191 so far this year.
New York banned “bath salts” in 2011. The new regulations add dozens more substances used to make synthetic drugs, to make it more difficult for distributors to evade the law by modifying the drugs’ ingredients. The rules also allow the owner of an establishment and/or an employee selling the drugs to be charged with possession of an illicit substance, according to a news release from Governor Cuomo’s office.
The governor acknowledged that although President Obama signed legislation banning synthetic drugs in July, the New York regulations will allow local law enforcement officials to be able to pursue perpetrators under state laws, and refer those who violate the law to local District Attorneys for prosecution.