Queens Councilman’s War on Synthetic Pot

A selection of the "Spice" legal stimulants is pictured in a shop in north London, on August 28, 2009. Spice, which will be placed in Class B, is made using synthetic chemicals and herbs and sold in so-called "head shops". It has been linked to mood swings and paranoia. The moves follow recommendations from the Government's drug advisory body, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. AFP PHOTO/Leon Neal (Photo credit should read Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)
Arctic Synergy-scented "incense." (Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: LEON NEAL/2009 AFP

Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. has taken on the city’s latest “camouflage killer“ — no, not giant baby-snatching rats that pass for subway platform seating, but synthetic marijuana, which has landed well over 50 New York teens in emergency rooms in the past year alone. The stuff, which is normally just plant leaves sprayed with toxic chemicals meant to mimic the effect of THC on the brain, is often sold at bodegas as incense or that dried mulch your mom likes to put in little bowls all around the house. Equally comforting are the brand names (including K2, Spice, Killer Buzz, Legal Phunk, Hammer Head) and warning labels, like “not for human consumption” and “will burn if ignited, which is not recommended.” So no eating the stuff or smoking it. Hmmm. As for the drug’s effects, a Bellevue toxicologist interviewed by the Daily News said they were “much more unpredictable” than regular pot, including seizures, panic attacks, hallucinations, sudden violent behavior, and even death. “I guess we all assumed that the federal government was going to act on it,” Vallone told the Daily News, apparently forgetting efforts by New York Senator Chuck  Schumer to pass a federal ban, “but we can’t wait because our kids are dying.”