Senator Klein and Councilman Vacca hold press conference on continued sale of synthetic marijuana

On Wednesday, April 4, Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, along with community members of Pelham Parkway, held a press conference on Lydig and Holland Avenues to address their concerns about the continued sale of synthetic marijuana, after a ban was put into place by Governor Andrew Cuomo last month.
Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

Legal marijuana?

Whoever thought that was going to fly in the Bronx, must have been high.

The synthetic marijuana, which is actually just leaves sprayed with chemicals, was banned by state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah at Gov. Cuomo’s request on Friday, March 30.

The ban came after the realization that calls to poison control centers in New York State had risen from four in all of 2009 and 2010 to 105 in 2011 and 2012, half of which were from teens under the age of 19.

The dangerous “drug” has sent nearly 60 people to the emergency room, as a result of adverse reactions to the chemical.

On Wednesday, April 9, Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman Jimmy Vacca, along with members of community organizations, held a press conference on the corner of Lydig and Holland avenues, to discuss their concern about stores in the area still selling the fake pot.

Prior to the ban, Senator Klein conducted a survey, during which he and his office visited several stores along Morris Park and Lydig avenues and found that a few sold the synthetic drug, which is also known and “Diesel” and “DZL”.

After the ban was put into place, the senator re-visited the same stores, and found one of them still selling the product behind the counter for less than $5.

According to Klein and Vacca, they have alerted the city Health Department of the sales, and are calling on residents in the community to help keep an eye out for other establishments who are violating the ban.

“I was outraged to find these dangerous substances are still being sold in our neighborhoods,” Klein said. “These products were banned because they are a public health hazard. That’s why Councilman Vacca and I are calling on the public to contact us if you see other corner stores and shops thumb their nose at this ban and continue to sell synthetic marijuana.”

Vacca said that now that the law has been changed, elected officials, as well as community members, need to make sure the law is enforced.

“It is vital that synthetic marijuana products are removed from all stores right away,” Vacca said. “These substances were banned for a reason. They are extremely hazardous and when we learned that they are still being sold in our neighborhoods, Senator Klein, community leaders, and myself made it a priority to make sure that they are removed from shelves immediately. We urge parents to speak to their children about how dangerous this substance is and ask all residents to contact us if they see any stores continuing to sell them.”

According to Klein, Edith Blitzer, president of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, uncovered the stores still selling the synthetic drug after the ban was put into place.

“The reason I was alerted to this was because the was a 61 year old man who purchased this product and ended up in the hospital,” Blitzer said. “We are not here to be nasty, we are here to save lives. This jeopardizes the lives of our kids and many adults as well. A life is a terrible thing to waste.”

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