THE BRONX - State and city officials announced Monday new measures to crack down on synthetic marijuana and other so-called "designer drugs."

The state attorney general's office filed lawsuits at the Bronx County Courthouse against two companies for selling the drugs.

The lawsuits are part of a larger effort to stop the increasingly popular drugs.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the drugs are usually made with legal ingredients and sold in fancy packaging marketing them as herbal remedies or candy. But officials say the synthetic drugs are actually just combinations of chemicals.

The side effects are life-threatening, Schneiderman says. They can cause symptoms such as hallucinations and lead to psychosis, choking or death.

The distributors named in the lawsuits are each accused of marketing the drugs as "legal highs."

Officials say one of them -- Erie County-based Surrealistic Sensations -- sold designer drugs online to consumers in the Bronx and elsewhere.

Aside from the two lawsuits, Schneiderman's office says that the crackdown has blocked more than 20 other businesses across the state from continuing to sell synthetic drugs.