To help prevent another drug crisis like the current heroin epidemic in Monmouth and Ocean counties, Assemblyman Ron Dancer today said he will introduce legislation to make kratom, an organic herb known for its opioid-like effects, illegal in New Jersey. A botanical substance that grows naturally in Southeast Asia, kratom is the latest legal drug craze especially popular among young people.
“Kratom can be easily bought in tobacco shops, gas stations and on the internet, much like bath salts and spice were before we took action to make those two drugs illegal. The effects of kratom are similar to those of opiates. It can cause hallucinations, delusions and respiratory problems. There’s no doubt it’s a dangerous substance,” said Dancer, R-Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex and Monmouth, who expects to introduce the measure on May 7. “Like we did with bath salts and spice, we need to crack down on kratom now before we’re facing another drug epidemic.”
Dancer’s bill will criminalize the manufacture, possession and sale of products containing kratom. It will amend state law to include kratom as a controlled dangerous substance. Violators will face prison terms ranging from 18 months to 10 years and fines of up to $150,000 depending on the severity of the violation.
Kratom has been used for centuries to alleviate pain, boost energy and reduce anxiety, but is not approved in the U.S. for any medical use. Kratom may be bought in leaf form, however, in the U.S. it is usually bought as a capsule or chopped up and used for tea or smoking. Studies show it can be addictive and can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Other side effects include agitation, aggression, tremors, nausea, vomiting and tremors. It’s illegal in Tennessee and other states have similar pending legislation. It’s also been banned in Australia, Malaysia and Thailand.