New Jersey Senators Seek to Regulate Kratom Sale

NEW JERSEY — A new bill would put some guidelines down for kratom, a currently-unregulated herbal supplement found for sale at smoke shops and other retailers in New Jersey which can produce harmful psychoactive effects and get users addicted.

Two senators are seeking to regulate the sale of kratom and make sure New Jersey retailers label it properly, as federal officials warn people away from using kratom products.


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The bipartisan “New Jersey Kratom Consumer Protection Act” proposed by Sens. Joseph A. Lagana (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Jon M. Bramnick (R-Morris, Somerset, Union) establishes regulations for the sale of kratom in the state. The bill (S549) also sets an age limit of 21 years old for purchase of the substance.

The Senate bill has been referred to the Commerce Committee. A similar bill in the New Jersey Assembly was introduced last May but did not advance through the state legislature.

Kratom comes from a tropical tree (Mitragyna speciose) which grows in some Southeast Asian countries. Its leaves can be smoked, chewed, or brewed with tea according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The substance can also be powdered and put into gel capsules.

The psychoactive alkaloid compounds in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, according to federal health officials. Kratom can produce effects similar to stimulants and opioids, say health experts. And while it has been used as traditional medicine in some countries, some users report bad reactions to kratom.

In low doses, the leaves can produce stimulant effects but at higher doses the substance can cause hallucinations and sedation. Users can also develop a dependence on kratom, the DEA added. Other effects on the body include nausea, itching, tachycardia, vomiting, and increased urinations.

The Food and Drug Administration has not banned kratom but says there are no approved uses for kratom, and warns consumers not to use it. The DEA lists it as a Drug and Chemical of Concern.

“FDA is concerned that kratom, which affects the same opioid brain receptors as morphine, appears to have properties that expose users to the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence,” officials at that administration said.

However, the National Institute for Drug Abuse supports and conducts research into potential medical uses for kratom and its compounds, saying that “ many people who use kratom report doing so to self-medicate for pain, anxiety, depression, substance use disorders and substance withdrawal.” The NIDA also mentions kratom as a possible treatment for substance use disorder.

Lagana and Bramnick’s bill would not ban the substance, but would penalize retailers who do not properly label their products, who offer products containing non-kratom substances, or who sell kratom to people under 21. Penalties for violating these regulations would begin at a petty disorderly persons offense and $500 fine, and could escalate to a three-year ban on selling kratom products.

The bill classifies kratom and kratom extract as a food product or dietary ingredient, and would make it illegal for kratom products sold in the state to contain any synthetic alkaloids or synthetically-derived compounds of the plant. All kratom products would have to be labeled with the amount of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine in the product, and “directions necessary for safe and effective use by consumers, including a recommended serving size.”

The bill also directs the NJ Department of Health commissioner to conduct a kratom-related study on the substance’s potential risk and benefits.

“The Department of Health may also establish fees for registration of kratom products and may establish administrative penalties for any person who sells a kratom product without product registration,” the bill states.

Furthermore, the bill establishes a limit for how much of the compounds mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine may be in kratom that is sold in New Jersey.



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