Following months of intensifying crackdowns on K2—also known as synthetic marijuana, or spice—Mayor Bill de Blasio signed three bills yesterday that collectively criminalize the sale and production of the drug in New York City. Selling or manufacturing the drug was previously only considered a health code violation, carrying a $250 fine; when the new laws go into effect in 60 days, offenders will punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and a year in prison.

"Let’s be clear: K2 is a poison," de Blasio said prior to signing the bills. "It is a poison that threatens public safety and public health, and it’s taken a toll on too many New Yorkers in too many communities already. It’s something we haven’t seen the likes of in the past, and it was crucial before this trend got any worse to act decisively."

Sold in bodegas under the loose disguise of potpourri, K2 is an addictive substance made by spraying plant leaves with chemicals imported from China, which is the only known source, according to NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. In addition to criminalizing the sale and manufacture of K2, the administration's initiative includes a public awareness campaign to alert users and potential users to the dangers of the drug. Hope you're ready to get scared straight:

K2 has been linked to strokes in otherwise healthy adults, and has led to at least one death NYC, according to Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. The stuff has had a particularly deleterious effect on the homeless population in East Harlem, where yesterday's press conference was held.

"You know, people, when they hear the word synthetic marijuana, I think they have an image of somebody in a white lab coat in a lab, making something up according to a protocol," Bassett said. "It’s not like that. The thing you should think of is somebody in a T-shirt in a warehouse, hosing down leaves with some concoction that’s made up of chemicals that they bought on the internet that are called synthetic cannabinoids."

Under these new laws, possession of more than nine packets of K2 indicates intent to sell; this applies to not only bodega owners, but also individuals reselling at higher prices. Bodega owners found guilty of selling K2 will face the potential loss of their lucrative tobacco licenses.

"These laws do not punish the individuals that are held hostage and held in the grip of this toxic drug," de Blasio emphasized yesterday. "We understand that some of the people who use this drug are amongst the most vulnerable in our city, and often include those who are dealing with mental health issues already. So the law doesn’t focus on attacking the victim. It focuses on criminalizing the process that brings this poison into people’s hands."

Meanwhile, the scourge of "synthetic marijuana" may help build a case for the legalization of the real stuff: last month, Councilmembers Corey Johnson and Rafael Espinal argued that legalizing marijuana—a far safer drug than K2—might help take down the Spice market, which has thrived among the homeless population because it has been legal, cheap, and easily obtainable.