The "legal pot" products have been popping up in bodegas and smoke shops around the state under innocuous names such as Mr. Nice Guy, Spice, and K2 (we always saw these suspiciously pot-looking vials but were too afraid to ask what the hell they were).
In New York City alone, calls to poison centers skyrocketed from just four in 2009 to over 110 in the last year.
The legal loophole of these products is that most of them are sold as "incense" and the packaging often warns that it's "not for consumption."
The synthetic drugs, popular amongst teens around the country, have been known to lead to severe side effects including acute renal failure and even death.
In October, a Pennsylvania eighth-grader who was had a double lung transplant after smoking the fake marijuana out of a PEZ dispenser died. The product has also been increasingly popular amongst US troops particularly because usage of the chemicals is difficult to detect.
Governor Cuomo explained, "We are banning the sale of synthetic marijuana because, no matter what you call it, it’s clear that this is an illegal drug which is putting the health of New Yorkers, especially young adults, at risk."
The state has issued an immediate ban on sales, with violators risking prosecution and civil penalties if caught.