Bill Threatens to Ban Kratom in New Jersey

27 Jun, 2024 Legality 0 Hit: 52

A bill in the New Jersey Legislature will criminalize all kratom consumers in the state, if passed.

Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the tree have been consumed for at least hundreds of years by the peoples of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The fresh leaves are often brewed into a tea or chewed in those countries. In the US, kratom leaves are most often dried, ground, and sold in powder form. The powder is sometimes brewed into a tea, or packed into gel capsules.

The New Jersey kratom ban bill, A3797, dubbed "CJ's Law", will criminalize the "manufacture, sale, and possession of substances containing kratom."

The bipartisan bill is named after Christopher James Holowach. According to his autopsy report, Holowach died in 2023 of "mixed drug intoxication including mitragynine". Holowach also had a diagnosis of hypertensive cardiovascular disease and obesity. In addition to a very high amount of 1000 ng/ml of mitragynine, other drugs, including amphetamine, bupropion (an antidepressant), hydroxybupropion, diphenydramine (an antihistamine), and meprobamate (anti-anxiety medication) were found in his system.

Millions of Americans consume kratom and most report beneficial results, according to multiple scientific surveys. Rare deaths involving kratom almost always involve other drugs, extreme quantities of mitragynine (likely from strong liquid extract products), and sometimes involve pre-existing medical conditions. After hundreds of years, no deaths attributed solely to traditional kratom use have been reported in Southeast Asia.

In an interview with NIH MedlinePlus Magazine, National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow said of the criminalization of substances: "Research shows that when people end up in jail or prison, they have a much higher chance of overdosing, dying, or relapsing."

Despite this, some legislators are still refusing to pass regulation laws such as the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which requires age restrictions, health and safety information, and dosing instructions on bottles of strong kratom products such as liquid extracts.

On June 24, New Jersey representatives gave the bill its second reading, and voted unanimously to pass out of the Assembly State and Local Government Committee. Next, A3797 will receive a third reading, and the New Jersey House will vote on it. If it passes, the bill will go to the New Jersey Senate.

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