Senator Klein hosts first K2 summit at Jacobi

Senator Klein hosts first K2 summit at Jacobi

One night, Reverend Kenneth Whitney was exiting his apartment’s elevator at the ground floor when his son, J. R., attacked him with a six-inch steel pipe striking the reverend three times in his rib cage before he was able to be restrained.

“I held onto that pipe with all of my might,” the reverend said, adding. “All I knew was that wasn’t my son. I didn’t want to hurt my child, but I didn’t want him to hurt me either. I don’t know what was worst, being attacked by my son or the actual blows themselves.”

That bizarre occurrence was caused by a young man under the influence of K2, synthetic marijuana.

Elected officials, health experts, city and state agency officials and parents are demanding to permanently ‘snub out’ synthetic marijuana.

The first-ever New York summit on the substance gave powerful insight into the battle against this dangerous lab-manufactured drug, along with personal accounts about those affected by this ongoing epidemic.

On Friday, October 9, Senator Jeff Klein hosted New York’s first summit on synthetic marijuana and convened with top officials, health experts, city and state agency officials to discuss strategies to combat K2 such as educational public service announcements and the introduction of new laws.

Moderated by the senator, last Friday’s summit featured real-life accounts from parents of children affected by synthetic cannabinoid use and panel representatives from the DEA; FBI; NYPD; New York State and City Department of Health; NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation; NYC Department of Homeless Services and agents from the Bronx, Kings, Queens, Manhattan and Richmond District Attorney’s offices.

Law enforcement officials revealed this multi-agency approach has worked very well and police have seized over 10,000 K2 packets in New York this year.

Health officials reported that NYC-run hospitals have seen over a thousand emergency room visits related to K2 use in September 2015 with Bellevue, Elmhurst, Harlem, Jacobi, Lincoln, Metropolitian and Woodhull hospitals are handling a total of 150 emergency room visits per week.

Klein discussed his ‘K.O. K2’ campaign in which more than 1,700 Bronx bodegas pledged not to sell synthetic marijuana to customers and his ‘The Online Smoke Shop’ report uncovering the emerging K2 online market on such sites as eBay, Craigslist and Backpage.

Klein said the agencies were successful in having Craigslist cease these drug sales, but are still working on having other websites stop this dangerous trade.

The panels also discussed a series of bills passed by the City Council banning the sale of K2 and imposing criminal penalties for violations, mandate the suspension of a licensed cigarette dealer’s license and create a mandatory revocation for a second violation and allow courts to issue restraining and closing orders against premises founded to be repeat offenders of this K2 prohibition under the Nuisance Abatement Law.

Currently, possession and selling of K2 is considered a violation against the NYS Sanitary Code. Stores are subject to $250 in fines per packet.

The panels wishes to add an analog statute to the state’s controlled substances law making any analog of a Controlled 1 or 2 substance illegal, but it must still be approved by the NYS Assembly.

They plan to have K2 considered a Controlled 2 substance since it can make users physically and psychologically dependent.

Many parents related their own heartbreaking accounts involving K2, including Deidre Canaday.

She lost her 26-year old son, Aaron Stinson, to synthetic marijuana and shared her heartbreaking experience with everyone present.

“My story doesn’t have a happy ending, my only son died,” expressed Canaday, adding. “No parent envisions the future of their child to be tragically cut short in such a senseless manner by a poisonous product and when you lose your child, you lose all of your hopes and dreams you ever had for them.”

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