May 08, 2012 Synthetic Cannabinoids and Review of Code of Conduct
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
Last week, the State Education Department issued the attached memorandum encouraging schools to work with their attorneys to ensure that each school’s code of conduct allows them to take “appropriate disciplinary action” in response to the: 1) possession of synthetic cannabinoids on school property or at school functions; or 2) distribution of synthetic cannabinoids to students. According to the New York State Department of Health (“DOH”), synthetic cannabinoids are made to mimic the action of the active ingredient in marijuana and have been marketed and sold online and in stores as a “legal alternative” to marijuana.
The SED memorandum noted that the State Health Commissioner recently issued an Order for Summary Action regarding this substance. The Order bans the sale or distribution of synthetic cannabinoids because, among other things, products containing the substance “have become prevalent drugs of abuse, especially among teens and young adults.” According to the DOH, synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to severe adverse health reactions including death and renal failure and associated with various side effects including seizures, loss of consciousness, paranoid behavior, confusion, agitation, irritability, increased heart rate, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting.
The DOH has also noted that synthetic cannabinoids are:
- Often consumed by smoking;
- Frequently sold as incense, herbal mixtures or potpourri;
- Commonly labeled “not for human consumption”; and
- Contained in various products, including K2, Spice, Chronic Spice, Spice Gold, Spice, Silver, Skunk, Black Mamba, Zohai, Mr. Nice Guy, K3, K3 Legal, Genie, Sence, Smoke, Chill X, Earth Impact, Galaxy Gold, Space Truckin, Solar Flare, Moon Rocks, Aroma, Scope, and Sky High.
Code of Conduct Review
Most codes of conduct ban the possession, consumption, sale, distribution or exchange of alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances. We recommend that the language in your code of conduct be reviewed to ensure that it also bans any synthetic, imitation or “look alike” drug and specifically bans synthetic cannabinoids. Any new language should be broad enough to cover all types of synthetic cannabinoids, whether or not they are illegal to sell or consume or are considered to be controlled substances pursuant to state, federal, or local law.
If the proposed changes to your code of conduct create new grounds for discipline, penalties and/or related procedures for your employees, then the changes may need to be negotiated with the union(s) representing affected employees pursuant to the Taylor Law, the National Labor Relations Act or the State Employment Relations Act (the latter two statutes cover many private sector employers). Whether this is the case in your specific situation will depend upon several factors which should be discussed with your special labor counsel and/or school attorney.
If you would like our assistance with the recommended review and update of your code of conduct, or any other issues related to this memorandum, please feel free to contact us.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP, 2012