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New York state has banned the sale of synthetic marijuana, which is sold under brand names such as “Spice,” “K2” and “Mr. Nice Guy,” the Associated Press reports.

The order calls for sales and distribution of the products to stop immediately, the article notes. They are sold as a “legal alternative” to marijuana in convenience stores, smoke shops and tobacco stores, according to a news release from the New York State Department of Health.

Violators of the new law can face civil penalties.

Signs of synthetic marijuana abuse include agitation, excessive sweating, inability to speak, restlessness and aggression. The drugs also cause euphoric and psychoactive effects similar to those caused by marijuana. The New York law states that synthetic marijuana has been linked to severe adverse reactions, including death and kidney failure.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported 4,500 calls involving synthetic marijuana toxicity from 2010 to 2011. Synthetic drugs are difficult to detect with commercially available drug tests, which make them more popular with teens, according to a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently announced it is extending its ban on synthetic marijuana for another six months. In March 2011, the DEA temporarily banned five chemicals whose effects mimic marijuana. The DEA said it was outlawing the chemicals to protect public health and safety.


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