Council, Cops Crack Down on Synthetic Marijuana Sales

Council, Cops Crack Down on Synthetic Marijuana Sales

PHOTO:  Synthetic marijuana, or “K2″ or “Spice,” is usually marketed in colorful packaging with catchy brand names, such as “Scooby Snax.” Photo Courtesy of NYPD

Law enforcement and elected officials on the city and state levels have recently bolstered efforts to crack down on the sale and consumption of synthetic marijuana, or “K2”—even working with major websites to remove classifieds that advertised the dangerous drug.

Several state senators, assemblymembers, and city councilmembers, including Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, sent letters last Thursday to the CEOs of eBay, Backpage and Craigslist, demanding they remove all K2 and K2 paraphernalia from their sites.

Craigslist promptly responded in an email that the posts were removed from their public listings.

State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx and Westchester) last Thursday released “The Online Smoke Shop,” an investigative report detailing “unscrupulous” ways that direct dealers used major sites like eBay, Craigslist and Backpage to sell synthetic weed in its myriad names and forms.

The postings discovered on Craigslist and Backpage lured consumers to direct dealer sites, where the same K2 found in New York shops is available for purchase online. Direct dealer sites sell the product to individuals and in bulk and ship in discreet packaging, the investigation found.

On Backpage, one dealer posted a cell phone number to text for synthetic marijuana.

Direct dealer sites found in the investigation peddled a vast array of K2, including popular brands like, “Geeked Up,” “Smacked!” “Scooby Snax,” and “Bizarro.” The sites popped up on major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! Search and when users entered terms like, “Buy K2 Spice,” “Buy herbal incense,” and “Buy synthetic marijuana.”

Dealers on these sites claimed their product was legal, but did not list ingredients.

Worse, the investigation discovered online cannabinoid dealers selling toxic ingredients sprayed on plant matter to make K2 — even ones that were recently banned in New York. Most of the online chemical peddlers operate outside of the U.S., but are willing to ship illegal chemicals to New York.

“No reputable company would risk the safety of its consumers and jeopardize its own interests by enabling dangerous synthetic drugs to be advertised and sold in its marketplaces,” Wills said. “By removing K2 ads from its website, Craigslist has shown its commitment to sound business practices that will help to prevent shoppers from being exposed to this hazardous drug, and deny sellers a pipeline to peddle their product. EBay, Backpage, and other companies must now follow suit and demonstrate that same commitment.”

Wills also reached out to Community Board 10 last Thursday at its monthly meeting. His message: If you see synthetic marijuana, say something.

“If you see this in any store, immediately call my office or 311,” Wills said. “We need you to be vigilant.”

By Michael V. Cusenza


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