Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a multi-agency strategy to reduce demand and supply for synthetic cannabinoids, often sold under the brand name K2, among others.

To end the sale of a harmful drug that has led to a recent spike in emergency room visits, the multi-agency effort has already seized more than 200 kilograms of the drug from sellers, is educating users and potential users about the dangers of using K2 and is working with the City Council to develop legislation to criminalize the sale of K2.

The administration’s combined public health and law enforcement approach will target a drug that appears in various toxic forms and has disproportionately affected residents of shelters and individuals with psychiatric illnesses.

Since January 2015, there have been more than 3,000 synthetic cannabinoid-related emergency department visits in New York City, with more than 1,200 emergency department visits occurring in July. Males account for approximately 90 percent of these emergency room visits. Patients have a median age of 37 and are disproportionately residents of shelters and individuals with psychiatric illnesses. Nearly all of patients are aged 18 and older.

Led by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the multi-agency effort includes representatives from the New York Police Department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Law Department, the Department of Homeless Services, the Office of the Sheriff and the Office of the Attorney General.