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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz criminalizing the possession and sale of the synthetic drug known as “flakka” cleared the Senate Law & Public Safety Committee today.

Alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha PVP) or as its most commonly known as “flakka” or “flocka” is related to the cathinone (aka “bath salt”) class of drugs and is frequently marketed as a “legal” alternative to cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA, and has been sold at smoke shops, convenience stores, gas stations, and been made available for purchase on the Internet.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), products containing alpha-PVP first emerged on the illicit drug market in the U.S. in 2011.

According to reports, Flakka can come as a white or pink crystal that people can snort, or eat. Like bath salts, the substance is packaged in plastic bags or vials. Flakka is known to spike your body temperature up to 104 degrees, if not higher. Flakka users can experience hallucinations, paranoia, increased strength and hyper stimulation. It can cause panic attacks or cause people to become depressed and suicidal. In some cases, people become extremely psychotic and violent.

According to a CNN article, flakka is found more in Florida, but there has been a case of it here in New Jersey.

“The bath salt drugs are dangerous and addictive and there is no end to the harm they can do to the brain and kidneys,” said Senator Madden. “This is a drug that is showing up a lot in Florida, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make its way here and become more prevalent in our communities.  We need to enact a strict policy in our state to keep residents safe, and our communities free of this drug. This is a step in the right direction.”

“Drug addiction continues to plague communities throughout our state, which can do damage to our neighborhoods and our residents’ physical and mental health and wellbeing,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Establishing penalties for the possession and sale of this dangerous drug will hopefully help to keep it off our streets.”

S-156 would make it a second degree crime to manufacture, distribute or possess or have intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a substance containing alpha-PVP in an amount of one ounce or more. A second degree crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to ten years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both. Similarly, less than one ounce, would be a third degree crime to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or possess or have intent to manufacture or distribute a substance containing alpha-PVP in an amount of less than one ounce. A third degree crime is punishable by a term of imprisonment of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

Under the bill, the possession of one ounce or more of a substance containing alpha-PVP would be a third degree crime, and possession of less than one ounce would be a fourth degree crime.

The bill cleared the committee 5-0 and will head to the full Senate for further consideration.

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