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Taliaferro, Eustace, Benson & Mazzeo Legislation to Ban ‘Flakka’ Possession Clears Assembly Committee

Synthetic Drug Associated with Cases of Hallucination, Attacks on Police

Legislation Assembly Democrats Adam Taliaferro, Tim Eustace, Daniel Benson and Vince Mazzeo sponsored to help curb the use of a street drug often associated with violent and self-destructive behavior was advanced Monday by an Assembly committee.

The bill (A-2176) would criminalize the possession, distribution, manufacture and sale of the drug alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), an inexpensive synthetic drug commonly referred to as “flakka” or “flocka.” The measure adds the drug to an existing list of similar prohibited controlled substances that includes the family of synthetic cathinones known as “bath salts.”

“Flakka has been linked to a number of psychotic symptoms and violent attacks, threatening the safety of communities across the nation,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “With this legislation, New Jersey will be proactive about preventing this dangerous drug from taking over in our state.”

Under the bill, possessing, distributing, manufacturing or selling one ounce or more of the drug would be a crime of the second degree. A crime of the second degree is punishable by imprisonment for a term of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000 or both. Possessing, distributing, manufacturing or selling less than one ounce would be a crime of the third degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of three to five years, a fine of up to $15,000 or both.

Alpha-PVP has been cited as a factor in cases of paranoia, violent behavior resulting in harm to self or others and death, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Aside from causing serious damage to those who use the drug, alpha-PVP puts added strain on the medical professionals and law enforcement officers who often must come to their rescue,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By getting a handle on this matter now, we can help prevent the violence and fatalities tied to flakka use.”

“Having observed the devastating impact this drug has had in other states, New Jersey now has the opportunity to avoid the proliferation of alpha-PVP in our own state,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “This bill makes it clear that those who possess, distribute, manufacture or sell flakka in New Jersey will face the same penalties as those already established for the possession, distribution, manufacture or sale of other deadly synthetic drugs.”

“Often individuals who use flakka present a danger not only to themselves, but also to those they may encounter while under the influence of this drug,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This ban is about making sure the people of New Jersey – including the trained professionals who respond to emergencies associated with flakka use – are safe from harm.”

The measure was advanced by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee, of which Benson is chair.