Legislator Testa Co-Sponsors Legislation to Ban Synthetic Marijuana

SpiceK2.jpgLegislator David Tubiolo (Yonkers-Mount Vernon) has proposed a Local law which would ban the sale or possession of  chemical compounds known as synthetic marijuana in Westchester County.  Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (Cortlandt-Peekskill-Yorktown) is co- sponsoring the Act which was taken up for discussion on February 13, 2017 in the Board of Legislators (BOL) Legislation Committee. The substance is generally known as K2 or Spice, but is found under various names and deceptive packaging.

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Synthetic Marijuana can be found in stores under various names and packaging, including being sold as incense or potpourri.

The Legislation Committee, of which Legislator Testa is a member, received feedback from members of law enforcement including Westchester County Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth and representatives of both the Yonkers and Mount Vernon Police Departments. Both County and municipal law enforcement representatives voiced support for the proposed law and reported frequent interactions with individuals under the influence of synthetic marijuana who were “zombie-like”, irrational, violent or suicidal. They also reported that these incidents are on the rise. Because of its inexpensive cost, the negative impacts are seen disproportionately among young teems and in low-income areas. Westchester County Consumer Protection Commissioner Mark Fang also participated at the Committee meeting, indicating his Department’s support for the measure.

The Local Law would be implemented by amending the “Consumer Protection Code” to include a new Article XXIV entitled “Synthetic Cannabinoids” in relation to restricting the sale and possession of synthetic drugs. The law would be enforced through both local Police and the County’s Department of Consumer Protection. The civil penalties proposed for violators include a $500 fine for the first offense and $1000 for a second offense. The extent of criminal penalties is still under discussion.

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Emergency response to four people sickened by synthetic marijuana in While Plains in 2016.

Westchester’s law seeks to broaden the definition of synthetic drugs to avoid the “cat and mouse game” of slightly altering the chemical composition of the drug to circumvent local laws which producers have employed in the past.

Legislator David Tubiolo is Chair of the Seniors and Constituencies Committee which has oversight of the County’s Youth Bureau. “Synthetic marijuana is a serious and dangerous problem from both a public health and law enforcement perspective. Because of the inconsistent nature of the chemical compounds used, it is impossible to predict how the drug will affect the user and how severe those affects might be. This is especially dangerous for our kids who are the prime target of synthetic drug suppliers. The drug is generally marketed in brightly colored packages featuring familiar cartoon characters. There could not be a more innocent looking product which hides potentially deadly effects.” Tubiolo said.  “I believe that properly crafted legislation implemented through the coordinated efforts of law enforcement and our Consumer Protection Department can go a long way toward eradicating this addictive and deadly poison in our communities.”Scooby Snax.jpg

Legislator John Testa, the Co-Sponsor of the Law said, “Synthetic drugs are a uniquely dangerous and fast spreading phenomenon. The obvious threat to public health, especially that of our kids should be enough to keep it off store shelves but for sellers who are willing to put profits over moral responsibility, this Legislation will ensure that their profits dry up through severe financial penalties and potential criminal charges.” Testa added, “I spent my professional career as a public High School Teacher and I can see that the danger and accessibility of these synthetic drugs poses a threat to our youth that we must address now and at every level of government. I hope that our Legislation here in Westchester County can serve as a template for local, regional and state governments to use in battling this critical problem.”

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Legislators discuss synthetic drug ban with law enforcement and Consumer Affairs officials during the Legislation Committee meeting on February 13, 2017.

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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1 Response to Legislator Testa Co-Sponsors Legislation to Ban Synthetic Marijuana

  1. Lolly Yacker-Winderbaum says:

    I think it would be wise to ban synthetic marijuana. Keep me informed Lolly lollyyacker@optonline.net

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