Saugerties village bans synthetic pot

A product called "Head Banger," purchased at a Saugerties gas station (photo by Will Dendis)

Following the example of the town, the village passed a law last week setting criminal penalties for the sale and possession of synthetic marijuana. The substances had been available in convenience stores until late last month, when the New York State Health Commissioner and the Town of Saugerties passed simultaneous bans. The state’s ban was a civil one, on sales only, enforceable by county health departments; the town ban is criminal, both possession and sales, and enforceable by police.

The substances are available under the brand names K-2, Spice, Yucatan Fire, and a host of other names, marketed as incense or potpourri. They look like marijuana — green leaves in a baggie — but the psychoactive component is a chemical additive. Most are imported from Europe.

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The state’s ban is now being challenged in court. Village officials aren’t sure if that could affect their ban.

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