by Nicole Reitz
A press conference was held Tuesday outside of the Oswego County Public Safety Building to discuss proposed legislation aimed at improving laws related to synthetic drugs.
Assemblyman Will Barclay spoke of a new comprehensive legislation that would increase penalties, penalize chemical swapping, mislabeling and other proposed charges.
Barlcay and Senator Patty Ritchie’s bill would also penalize both dealers and users of synthetics.
The legislation defines a synthetic drug as any substance that affects a person’s cannabinoid receptor.
The cannabinoid receptors language in the legislation pinpoints the affect the drug has on a person, rather than naming actual substances.
Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd said that while the use of synthetics has definitely decreased in Oswego County, these drugs are typically sold as other products, such as bath salts, shoe powder and incense.
“You still have a certain amount of people that want to make a buck and not have to work for it, and they prey on the vulnerable,” said Todd. “Having this law in place would allow us to act faster when a new drug comes on the scene and better protect the public.”
Police approaching a scene put themselves in danger because of the users’ erratic behaviors. Users can hallucinate, become extremely agitated, paranoid and violent — sometimes for days.
Todd said that those under the influence of synthetics also have a “terrific ability to mask pain,” and can withstand taser guns and pepper spray.
The reaction of the people taking these poisons also make the jobs of health-care professionals more difficult. Unlike more common street drugs, nurses and doctors do not know the chemical makeup of these drugs, making it hard to treat users symptoms.
Often the abusers of these agents do not realize or anticipate the intensity of symptoms that are produced from these drugs.
One of these people is the late Victor Woolson of Baldwinsville, who died last August of injuries sustained from a synthetic drug called Avalanche.
Woolson purchased it in Oswego on a store shelve, which he falsely believed to be a legal and safe alternative to real drugs.
The Woolson family was at the press conference, holding signs in remembrance of Victor.
The family advocates for strengthening laws regarding synthetics to prevent further addiction and deaths. Victor died after federal legislation and the New York Department of Health ban was put in place.
Teresa Woolson, Victor’s mother, knows that improving the law will help the problem of synthetic drug use in the county.
To read the rest of the article, pick up a copy of The Valley News. You can subscribe by calling 598-6397 or click on the link on our home page.