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Health department bans sale of synthetic marijuana in NY

— The health department has issued a ban on the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana, which goes by the brand names of "Spice" or "Legal Phunk," have been banned for distribution in the state.

Three Onondaga County residents died last year after complications from smoking the substances, said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, of the Onondaga County Health Department. Another young female nearly died after smoking the incense in January. The substances, which are not sold to be smoked, have been the cause of seizures, hallucinations, high blood pressure, rapid pulse and panic attacks, among other effects.

The substances are billed as incense, like the ones many will light in a home for aromas. The chemical compounds found in these products are made to replicate the high associated with marijuana use, though the substance is legal and allowable by most companies' drug policy.

The Health Department issued the order, signed by Commissioner Dr. Nirav R. Shah, yesterday stating that the sale and distribution of the synthetic cannabanoids be banned in New York State, in pursuant to public health law.

The health department is calling on local health units to insure local retailers are not continuing to sell the synthetic marijuana.

Sen. Charles Schumer is co-sponsoring legislation at the federal level.

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