Updated: About K-2….

K2 is a synthetic drug that is flooding parts of NYC that are already struggling with homelessness. We don’t believe in criminalizing poverty here. We do believe in stopping drug dealers who prey on the poor. People may long for even a momentary escape from a harsh reality that has its roots in or is inflamed by racism, poverty, and centuries of exploitation. Wherever K2 is sold, on the street or in small stores, we the public need to pressure those store owners to stop selling – even if it is not technically “illegal” to sell it.

Community Board 3 passed a resolution to prosecute those who prey on the vulnerable (see below) after the moving testimony in support of the Community Board’s resolution regarding K2 (Transportation #7) by Wesley Williams and Bernard Carter. Each speaking as insiders living in the shelter system and founders of the Community Advisory Board of the Third Street Men’s Shelter. They spoke about the dangers of K2 and hoped for legislation outlawing it and protecting those abusing the drugs.

The resolution has served as a model to other CB’s of such support.


Excerpts from WNYC: Dangerous Drug Threatens East Harlem:

“Several people on this block have tried the drug. … a former heroin addict and current methadone user, said when he tried it …he became paralyzed. “Locked up” was how he put it…..[he] warned it was dangerous and should be taken off the market. City and state officials have been working to do just that, but it’s proven to be a frustrating and futile process.

K2, or synthetic marijuana, is basically herbs spiked with chemicals and drugs. … The state banned the ingredients used to make it in 2012, but distributors found new ones. And just last month, the governor proposed banning those substances too.

The drug comes in small packages labeled K2, Green Giant, Spice, Sand or Wicked. Vendors can face criminal fines or jail time, but first authorities have to prove that the chemical in the package is illegal.

“I bought it right from one of these stores here,” said Scott DeHaven. “All the stores have them. Even though they say they’re not supposed to sell them, they got them under the counter right now.”…DeHaven said he had a near-death experience when he smoked the drug….”My respiratory system shut down. I turned blue. They had to bring me to the hospital….They didn’t know what to do with me,” he said.

Health officials have said the drug can cause a range of symptoms, from extreme anxiety, rapid heart rate and vomiting to sedation, paranoia and hallucinations. ….

Between April and June, there were more than 1,900 emergency room visits across the state related to synthetic marijuana, and nearly 700 calls to the poison control call center. More than 120 people visited an emergency room in the city in just one week in April, New York City’s health department said. The majority of those cases were in East Harlem, where person after person had a story to tell.

…..”…They can’t give you something to withdraw from K2 because they don’t know” …

…The city has responded with raids by health inspectors, consumer affairs inspectors and the NYPD….”


January 2015 Full Board Minutes

“….Consideration of state legislation to address the K2 legal/enforcement problems

VOTE: Title: Community Board 3 Resolution Requesting NY State Penal Code Classification of “K2” as a Controlled Substance for Purposes of Intent to Sell and Distribute

WHEREAS, Synthetic cannabinoids (a class of drugs commonly known by their street names “K2” or “Spice”) are an emerging problem in our neighborhoods. Residents of Community Board 3 have come to the Board for help and relief from this drug that is adversely victimizing our residents, including lower income and shelter residents. Our local law enforcement and district attorneys do not have adequate legal tools to remove these harmful substances from sale and distribution; and

WHEREAS, Existing regulations classify possession of “K2” as a violation, with no distinction between possession and distribution. In other words, “K2” is legally just a violation similar to the public consumption of alcohol. Therefore, it is not possible for local law enforcement and district attorneys to uncover and shut down networks involved in the illicit sale, distribution and importation of “K2” because it is not possible to obtain a search warrant or to engage in plea bargaining with defendants; and

WHEREAS, The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has reported that emergency department visits related to synthetic cannabinoids were up 220% in first six months of 2014. The manufacture of “K2” includes an unpredictable blend of ingredients, which can cause an array of serious and unpredictable side effects. Common psychological reactions include agitation, fear and paranoia, which can cause intense experiences of panic attacks and disorientation. Significant physiological side effects can include heart palpitations and respiratory difficulties; and

WHEREAS, CB 3 wishes to respond to the community residents coming to CB 3 for help and protection of people using K2. Our lower income residents are particularly being victimized and hurt by use of this drug which can be bought for only $2.00. CB 3 wishes to support legislation that would not 9 punish the user, but would target distributors preying on our community. Only possession with intent to distribute should result in misdemeanor or felony charges that would result in serious penalties. Classifying mere possession of small quantities of “K2” as anything more serious than a violation would do nothing to improve individual or public health or safety. CB 3 does not support any change in legislation that would impact users of this drug. Drug convictions have already criminalized and marginalized millions of Americans, with consequences that can include loss of a job, voting rights, housing, and access to education. Users of “K2” should not be further victimized — “K2” is an emerging public health problem that should be addressed by legislation to curb its sale and distribution, not to criminalize its possession; and

WHEREAS, In June-September 2013, NY State enacted legislation to address synthetic cathinones (another class of drugs commonly known by their street name, “bath salts”), reclassifying them from a violation to a controlled substance under the state penal code. That legislation closed a significant loophole and toughened penalties to curb the sale and distribution of “bath salts” by allowing local law enforcement and district attorneys to use search warrants and plea bargaining. Legislation to address “K2” could be modeled on the “bath salts” legislation; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that CB3 encourages our State elected officials to enact and pass legislation to classify synthetic cannabinoids (A.K.A., “K2″) as a controlled substance under NY State penal code for purposes of intent to sell and distribute in NY State.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that only possession with intent to distribute should result in misdemeanor or felony charges that would result in serious penalties. CB 3 is advocating for legislation that would not change the existing regulations regarding users of this drug. The intent is to protect users from the potentially dangerous impacts of this drug by curtailing distribution.”

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