Local Law Battles Bath Salts

By Kelly McCarthy

December 6, 2012 Updated Dec 7, 2012 at 10:29 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Is the New York State law banning possession of bath salts and synthetic drugs strong enough?

Tioga County doesn't think so and the legislature's working on passing a local law.

Selling and using bath salts or other synthetic drugs is already illegal in New York State but the Tioga County Legislature is having trouble charging suspects with criminal possession.

Tioga County Chairman Dale Weston tells me the chemical make up of these drugs is constantly changing and he's hoping this legislation will be passed to help out local law enforcement.

"As a result they would like to be able to get these people off the street and be able to test them, and observe them for a little while," said Dale Weston, (R) Tioga County Chairman.

Synthetic drugs are made up of a number of chemical compounds that are constantly changing, but mimic the effects of a hallucinogen, LSD, and marijuana.

It makes it hard for law enforcement to punish when many of the ingredients are not on the Department of Health's prohibited drugs and chemicals list.

"We have had complaints from people that are in law enforcement that it's not adequate with how the law reads so as a result we're trying to change that so it's a little easier for them to enforce drug laws," said Weston.

Owego Police Chief Karen Vinti says they've had problems with people committing other crimes under the influence of synthetic drugs and hopes this local law will make having these drugs easier to prove.

This law will carry a stiffer penalty than the New York State law, charging someone with an unclassified misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine or up to a year in jail.

"We're hoping the state will morph the information that has been taken from all the different counties and from other law enforcement agencies but this is just a stop gap method until that can be done," said Weston.

There is an article in the legislation that says once the penalties are covered under a New York State law, and then this local law will become null and void.

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